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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nicaragua may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Nicaragua. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in certain areas, including in employment and access to health services.

Nicaragua (orthographic projection).svg
StatusLegal since 2008[1]
Gender identityNo
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex couples

According to Nicaraguan LGBT group Movimiento de la Diversidad Sexual (Movement of Sexual Diversity), there are approximately 600,000 gay people living in Nicaragua.[2]

Legality of same-sex sexual activityEdit

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity have been legal in Nicaragua since March 2008. The age of consent is 16, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, and all sexual offenses are gender-neutral, according to articles 168, 170, 172 and 175 of the Criminal Code of Nicaragua.[3]

Recognition of same-sex relationshipsEdit

Homosexuality laws in Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
  Same-sex marriage
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Country subject to IACHR ruling
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal but law not enforced

Same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal benefits and protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

In June 2014, the Nicaraguan Congress approved a revised family code that would limit marriage, partnerships and adoption to heterosexual couples. On 8 April 2015, Nicaragua's new Family Code went into effect.[2] Several organizations filed an action of unconstitutionality against the Family Code.

Discrimination protectionsEdit

Article 315 of the Penal Code on "offenses against labor rights," states that discrimination based on "sexual option", is punishable with up to one year in prison.[4]

Article 3(l) of Law N° 820 for the Promotion, Protection and Defense of Human Rights in the face of HIV and AIDS, for its Prevention and Attention (Spanish: Ley núm. 820 de promoción, protección y defensa de los derechos humanos ante el VIH y SIDA para su prevención y atención) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation (among other grounds).[5]

Article 1 of Ministerial Resolution 671-2014 (Spanish: Resolución Ministerial 671-2014) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in access to health services.[6][7]

Hate crime lawEdit

According to Article 36(5) of the Penal Code, an aggravating circumstance exists when a person is motivated by discrimination based on sexual orientation while committing a criminal offense.[8]

A 2012 survey by the Center for Justice and International Law found that 53 aggressions against LGBT people had occurred between 1999 and 2011. Of these, 15 involved murders (10 gay men, 4 transgender people and 1 lesbian). The actual number of homicides and violent attacks is expected to be higher, as many victims choose not to denounce the attacks to the police.[9]

Social conditionsEdit

Gay men are generally more visible in public than lesbians are.[10] When lesbians socialize with each other, it often happens in private residences or other private places.[10]

LGBT history in NicaraguaEdit

Many LGBT Nicaraguans held prominent roles during the Sandinista Revolution; however, LGBT rights were not a priority to the Sandinista Government because the majority of the population were Roman Catholic. Protecting those rights was also considered politically risky and bound to be met with hostility from the Roman Catholic Church, which already had bad relations with the Government.[10] On the tenth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution (1989), many community centers were launched for LGBT people. The centers began to form after a march by activists that took place in Managua.[10]

After the United States lifted the economic embargo against Nicaragua, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) promoting LGBT rights began to operate in the country. As a result, Nicaragua hosted its first public gay pride festival in 1991.[10] The annual Gay Pride celebration in Managua, held around 28 June, still happens and is used to commemorate the uprising of the Stonewall riots in New York City.[11]

After gaining support, the LGBT community suffered a setback when a bill formerly written to protect women from rape and sexual abuse was changed by social Christians in the National Assembly.[10] The change imposed a sentence of up to three years in prison for "anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes, or practices sex among persons of the same sex in a scandalous manner." It also included any unmarried sex acts. Activists and their allies protested in Nicaragua and at embassies abroad; however, President Violeta Chamorro signed the bill into a law in July 1992 as Article 204 of the Nicaragua Criminal Code.[12]

In November 1992, a coalition known as the Campaign for Sexuality without Prejudices (Campaña por una Sexualidad sin Prejuicios), composed of lawyers, lesbians, and gay activists, among others, presented an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice challenging the law as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal in March 1994.[13] On 1 March 2008, a new Penal Code took effect. It omitted the language in now-repealed Article 204 and, by doing so, decriminalized sex out of wedlock and gay sex as well between consenting adults.[14]

United NationsEdit

Since legalizing homosexuality in 2008, Nicaragua has been active on the international level in supporting LGBT rights. In 2011, Nicaragua signed the "joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity" at the United Nations, condemning violence and discrimination against LGBT people.[15]

The Nicaraguan Government has also urged countries to repeal their sodomy bans, including Antigua and Barbuda.[16]

Public opinionEdit

According to a Pew Research Center survey, conducted between 9 November and 13 December 2013, 77% of Nicaraguans opposed same-sex marriage, 16% were in favor and 7% didn't know.[17][18]

The 2017 AmericasBarometer showed that 24.5% of Nicaraguans supported same-sex marriage.[19]

Summary tableEdit

Same-sex sexual activity legal   (Since 2008)
Equal age of consent   (Since 2008)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment   (Since 2008)
Anti-discrimination laws in education  
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services  
Anti-discrimination laws in other areas (health)   (Since 2014)
Hate crime law includes sexual orientation   (Since 2008)
Same-sex marriage  
Recognition of same-sex couples  
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples  
Joint adoption by same-sex couples  
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military  
Right to change legal gender  
Conversion therapy banned on minors  
Access to IVF for lesbians  
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples  
MSMs allowed to donate blood  

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults Archived 19 July 2013 at WebCite
  2. ^ a b c Nicaragua rechaza que parejas del mismo sexo contraigan matrimonio o adopten niños
  3. ^ CÓDIGO PENAL LEY No. 641
  4. ^ (in Spanish) Article 315, CÓDIGO PENAL
  5. ^ LEY No. 820
  6. ^ El Ministerio de Salud ha dado a conocer la firma de la Resolución Ministerial 671-2014 (RM 671-2014)
  7. ^ Resolución de Nicaragua por la no discriminación en unidades de salud
  8. ^ (in Spanish) Article 36(5), CÓDIGO PENAL
  9. ^ "Aumenta violencia contra la diversidad sexual en Nicaragua".
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Nicaragua". Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Nicaragua briefs: One Small Step For Gay Pride". Revista Envío. Retrieved 28 July 2007.
  12. ^ "Struggle and Identity in Nicaragua". Retrieved 28 July 2007.
  13. ^ "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at risk in Nicaragua". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 19 November 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ Nicaragua to decriminalize gay sex
  15. ^ "Over 80 Nations Support Statement at Human Rights Council on LGBT Rights » US Mission Geneva".
  16. ^ Decriminalise homosexual relations, UPR says Antigua Observer
  17. ^ Religion in Latin America Chapter 5: Social Attitudes
  18. ^ Religion in Latin America Appendix A: Methodology