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El Salvador: LGBTQ+ Organizations Denounce Bukele's Attacks as a Smokescreen

Days after their speeches at the far-right Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference held outside of Washington, D.C., Nayib Bukele and Argentinian President Javier Milei launched what seems to be a coordinated attack on LGBTI+ communities. While Milei’s announcement focused on banning inclusive gender language in the government, Bukele’s government removed all mention of gender and sexual diversity from schools and public healthcare clinics. Bukele’s move was foreshadowed by an impromptu interview with Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based right-wing hate group, in which he expressed his opposition to “gender ideology” and called for bringing God back into the classroom.

On March 1, recognized by the United Nations as Zero Hate Day, the "Movimiento Ampliado LGBT+ de El Salvador," a coalition of LGBTI+ organizations in El Salvador responded by calling the moves a smokescreen. Their statement highlights the economic struggles and democratic crisis faced by all Salvadorans, while connecting their struggle to that of women street vendors who have been displaced from public spaces in San Salvador’s Historic Center. The statement makes clear that a campaign of hatred against the LGBTI+ community will do nothing to resolve the significant issues faced by the Salvadoran population, but it will galvanize further acts of hate against their community. See below for a full translation of the statement.


Over the last few days, domestic anti-rights groups, supported by similar groups based outside of the country, have intensified their campaign against the LGBTI+ community in El Salvador. In our opinion, the current crusade to eradicate educational content and materials raising awareness about gender and sexual diversity in public spaces is part of a diversionary strategy that aims to divert the public’s attention from the more significant and urgent issues facing our society.

Like our compatriots, LGBTI+ people, who exist in all spheres of society, are experiencing the consequences of the high cost of living, abuse of authority by law enforcement, and a democratic crisis, whose most significant manifestation was the electoral fraud of February 4. The campaign against sexual diversity will not solve the systemic issues in education, health, the economy, the environment, or other areas that afflict our country. No attack against sexual diversity will erase, much less resolve, these problems.

A demonstration of the significant social issues that El Salvador faces is the harassment of women street vendors by the Metropolitan Police Force (CAM, for its Spanish initials) in the Historic Center of San Salvador. These women have been removed from public spaces through the same violence that now excludes us from healthcare access and school curriculums. According to the Constitution and international treaties, the Salvadoran state is obligated to guarantee human rights equally for all people. Unfortunately, as authoritarianism continues to progress, anti-rights speech and actions are also gaining ground in the country. The Salvadoran state seeks to hide the precariousness of our lives. The recent measures will not erase our existence, but they do work to legitimize stigmas and hate against us.

The LGBTI+ community’s struggle is no more than the fight for human dignity for all people. We do not have an agenda against the family or God. On the contrary, we promote respect for all forms of families and secularism as a democratic principle. We will move forward with the conviction that neither hate nor force can stop social progress led by oppressed communities.

We call on the LGBTI+ community and Salvadoran society to stay alert, denounce injustice, and take care of each other. It is time to activate our support networks and organize ourselves against what we are facing, until we win a country in which we all enjoy dignity, democracy, and justice.

The LGBT+ Movement of El Salvador
El Salvador, March 1, 2024. Zero Discrimination Day