US Ambassador to El Salvador Attacked for Support of LGBT Rights

Mari Carmen Aponte, the United States Ambassador to El Salvador has come under attack this month by various pro-life and pro-family groups, notably the Catholic Church, after authoring an article in support of LGBT rights in El Salvador. Aponte called for the elimination of prejudice against LGBT individuals, noting that the impetus for change is not just the responsibility of the government, but requires the cooperation of its people as well.In her article, Aponte championed the celebration of the “diversity of the Americas.”

The coalition of pro-life/pro-family groups opposed to Aponte’s ideas is comprised of 22 Salvadoran organizations, and 20 other organizations from the Americas and Europe. The group is accusing Aponte of violating international rules of diplomacy and international rights as stated in the Vienna Convention of the United Nations Assembly. This Convention provides that diplomats must abstain from interfering in the internal affairs of other states or countries, while simultaneously respecting the character of said states.

The coalition further argued that in “not accepting the legitimacy of ‘sexual diversity’ does not mean [they] are violating any human right.” The coalition rejects the notion that Aponte is defining the progress of human rights in El Salvador as the acceptance and promotion of LGBT issues. The group stated that they “prefer to feel proudly ‘old fashioned,’ keep [their] moral values…and preserve their families,” and to decide what is right and wrong themselves.

Members of the coalition feel as if Aponte has completely disregarded and undervalued their Christian values, which they find very offensive. They argue that it is wrong for Aponte to lecture organizations, citizens and the government of El Salvador from a pedestal and with a tone of moral superiority when in the United States abortion, which they do not support, is legal and accepted by many.

While Aponte and the groups agree that violence against LGBT communities needs to be curbed, the coalitions deny that this means they must accept and approve of gay marriage. Officials from the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador claim that Aponte’s comment was not pertaining to foreign culture and laws, but it was instead a reinstatement of U.S. policy. President Obama, and Secretary Hilary Clinton have been explicit in their support the respect of rights for the LGBT community, a position that Aponte was merely echoing and doing her job as a US ambassador to explain to those outside the US border.

This disagreement, along with the June 15th Gay Pride March in San Salvador, has highlighted how sensitive the issues surrounding Salvadoran LGBT rights are.  In the coming weeks, Voices will be writing a short series of articles about the everyday realities of members of the LGBT community in the country. Stay tuned!

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