El Salvador's lower chamber approved on Thursday various reforms of the country’s criminal code, adding harsher sentences for homicides or threats committed against individuals because of their gender expression or sexual orientation.
Those convicted of murdering members of LGBT in hate crimes can now face up to 50 years in prison, 20 years more than the earlier provision, if the crime was proven to be motivated by “racial, ethnical, religious hate or related to the expression of gender or sexual orientation,” according to the newly added 11th paragraph of Article 29 in the country’s criminal code.
The chamber also increased the penalties for homicides of policemen, soldiers and other state officials from 40 to 60 years in prison.
As for threats motivated by hate, if found guilty defendants could be sentenced to three to six years of prison.
The initiative came from the governing left-wing party Front Farabundo Marti for National Liberation (FMLN).
“We have made a lot of progress in the democracy (of the country), this is a significant step toward the recognition of the rights of the LGBT community,” stated the FMLN lawmaker Cristina Cornejo.
However, homicides against women, or “femicides,” remain sentenced to 20 to 30 years of prison.