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Press Release

LGBTQ+ people in Central America need safe spaces, trustworthy information and cash to cover basic needs: IRC

As Pride Month commemorations continue around the world, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns of the urgent needs that the LGBTQ+ community faces in northern Central America, identified among the population currently participating in its programming in the region. 

Meg Galas, Director for Northern Central America at the International Rescue Committee said:

“People in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras face rapidly increasing challenges, like economic slowdowns that make it difficult to meet their most basic needs. At the same time, all three countries are facing the impact of climate change and rising levels of violence—including gender-based violence, which especially puts LGBTQ+ people, women and children at risk.

“LGBTQ+ people are in so much danger that they are often forced to leave their homes and families behind to try to save their lives. For instance, more than 400 members of the community suffered a violent death in Honduras between 2009 and 2021, while in El Salvador, 83% of surveyed LGBTQ+ people expressed they have experienced violence according to a recent report. 

“Understanding the current context of gender-based violence—and especially the impact on the LGBTQ+ community—is critical. In collaboration with all sectors and with support from the international community, we must all design and implement an improved response that helps people be safe in their home countries.”

According to data from IRC programs in northern Central America in 2021 and 2022, the LGBTQ+ population experiences critical needs that include access to:

  • Safe spaces. The IRC works with national NGO partners to create safe spaces for women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community. These safe spaces offer access to services and information, engagement with trained staff and create opportunities to build community networks. IRC data show that 50% of safe space users were forced to leave their homes due to violence because of their identity, and 40% live away from their family due to discrimination. The IRC is currently supporting nine safe spaces in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador; four of these safe spaces are dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, having provided services for more than 1,300 people to date. 
  • Emergency cash relief. The IRC responds to people in crisis with cash support for  basic needs such as food, medicine or safe shelter. Cash is a proven strategy to offer support to people in need. Half of the LGBTQ+ people who received cash relief from IRC are survivors of gender-based violence; 35% expressed they were experiencing food insecurity; and 13% had been affected by natural disasters. 
  • Trustworthy information and direct support. Nearly 10% of the crisis cases that IRC’s CuéntaNos moderators received have been members of the LGBTQ+ community. CuéntaNos is an information and service referral platform—part of the global Signpost project—that connects people in crisis to social services, using two-way communication with trained moderators. CuéntaNos provides referrals to more than 350 service providers throughout northern Central America, including specialized services for the LGBTQ+ populations.  

The IRC in northern Central America

Today, the IRC serves individuals and families at increased risk of violence and displacement, including internally displaced individuals, returnees, women, girls, youth, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are survivors of gender-based violence. The IRC’s programming in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras includes multi-purpose cash transfers to cover basic needs; the creation of safe spaces for women, youth and the LGBTQ+ community; case management and psychosocial support; and CuéntaNos

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.