IOM, Guests Discuss Challenges to Protection of LGBTI Migrants

Capacity Building, Gender and Migration

Guatemala - More than 50 LGBTI activists, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations from the seven countries in Mesoamerica met this week in Guatemala to strengthen their capacities and discuss joint strategies for the defense and promotion of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender migrants.

The Regional Workshop on Migration and the LGBTI Population included trainings on the normative framework and the actions for the protection of LGBTI migrants. It also served to jointly analyze the advances and challenges in the region to promote cooperation to improve the protection of this part of the population.

The increase in cases of violence against persons from this community during the past years is noticeable. According to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH), during the first month of 2017 at least 41 crimes against LGBTI persons have been reported in the Americas; 19 of these only in El Salvador.

The risks and discrimination LGBTI persons face increasingly drives their migration in search of protection and opportunities. In addition, gender identity and sexual orientation usually have a negative impact over migratory experiences.

The attention to the specific needs of LGBTI persons during their migratory cycle remains a challenge, since diverse factors hinder the upholding of their rights as migrants in Mesoamerica. One of these factors is the lack of information and capacity-building efforts on the subject.

“This topic is of special importance for IOM since we are conscious of the homophobia and transphobia climate present in our countries, which sometimes translates into family, community and even institutional violence. We also know that within this group, transgender women are exposed to the most risk. All violence patterns, which extend from threats to insults – and up to death – incentivizes thousands of LGBTI persons to seek protection in other countries through irregular migration. That increases their vulnerability in relation to Trafficking in Persons networks and other types of criminal organizations,” explained IOM Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Jorge Peraza Breedy.

This is the second regional workshop of its kind that IOM implemented under its Mesoamerica Programme. Its first edition (2016) led to the formation of the Mesoamerican Network for the Protection and Assistance of LGBTI Migrants, a project that seeks to link the efforts of organizations that defend human rights to develop an articulated regional response to the attention of the multiple needs of this part of the population.

The Mesoamerica Programme “Strengthening the Capacities to Protect and Assist Vulnerable Migrants in Mesoamerica” is financed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State of the United States of America. 

For further information, please contact Melissa Vega at IOM Guatemala, Tel: +502 2414-7405, Email:


  • Government authorities learn about concepts of discrimination and stigmatization during the workshop. Photo: IOM / Melissa Vega 2017

  • Civil Society organizations discuss key concepts on migration. Photo: IOM / Melissa Vega 2017