Guatemalan presidential contender Sandra Torres voiced her staunch opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Speaking at a school in San Juan Sacatepequez, the former first lady took care to clarify that her stance did not equate to homophobia and emphasised her wish for the government to acknowledge life starting at conception and her intention to govern “with the fear of God.”
Leading the National Unity of Hope party, which holds significant sway as the second-largest group in the unicameral legislature, Torres has been gradually aligning herself more with right-wing ideologies. Recent polls had shown her as a top presidential choice, having secured 16% of votes in the initial voting round on June 25th.
Her current presidential campaign, marking her third attempt, has seen her partnering with a right-wing evangelical pastor as her vice president. She has strongly reiterated her commitment against legalising abortion and has consistently opposed LGBTQ+ rights.
Some political analysts believe Torres’ shift to the right could be a strategic move to garner support from the nation’s influential evangelical churches, thereby ensuring their continued alliance with the government.
This conservative pivot is notably different from the policies of her ex-husband, Álvaro Colom’s administration, and mirrors a broader trend of rising conservative populism in Guatemala.
Although the National Unity of Hope party was once known for its social democratic leanings, it, like Torres, has veered towards the right.
In contrast, Torres’ primary rival, the Seed Movement’s Bernardo Arévalo, maintains his stance against abortion. However, he has been cautious about same-sex marriage, underscoring his stand against any form of discrimination. Riding on his anti-corruption promise, Arévalo surprised many by securing 11.8% of votes in the 2023 presidential election’s first round, despite earlier polls indicating less than 3% support.
Equaldex, a community-driven LGBTQ+ rights platform, ranks Guatemala 67th out of 197 nations in its Equality Index. Although the country does not overtly prohibit same-sex marriages, its civil code’s Article 78 specifies marriage as an alliance between a man and a woman.