TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Members of the Honduran Congress voted for an amendment to the constitution Thursday, making it much harder to lift existing bans on abortion and same-sex marriage as lawmakers doubled down on socially conservative priorities.
Legislature voted to require a three-quarters super majority to amend one constitutional article that gives a fetus the same legal status as a person and another that states that a civil marriage in the Central American nation is only between a man and a woman can take place.
With 88 in favor, 28 against and seven abstentions, the proposal will need a second vote in the unicameral legislature next year before it can be passed.
Currently, all constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority on the 128-strong body.
Mario Perez, a lawmaker for President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s ruling party, said during a virtual debate that the amendment would create a “constitutional lockdown” on any possible weakening of the existing articles.
The country’s criminal code provides three to six years in prison for women who have aborted a fetus and anyone else involved.
Proponents of abortion rights accused supporters of the proposal of cementing current bans.
“This legislation permanently condemns pregnant women or girls who have been raped or may die for health reasons,” said Merary Mendoza, a researcher at the Honduran Women’s Study Center CEMH.
Kevihn Ramos, head of a gay rights advocacy group in Honduras, has beaten lawmakers who voted to make it difficult to amend the two constitutional articles.
“This reform is the product of a government-imposed religion in Honduras,” he said.