(WB) The government of Nicaragua has sought to shut down the country’s oldest LGBT rights group.

Confidencial, an online newspaper that is critical of the government, reported the Interior Ministry has asked the National Assembly to “annul the legal non-profit status” of Fundación Xochiquetzal and 14 other non-governmental organizations. Assemblyman Filiberto Rodriguez on Aug. 18 introduced a bill that would dissolve the 15 NGOs for “holding activities outside the law and acting expressly against the law.”

Paul Canning, a London-based writer and activist, in a tweet notes Fundación Xochiquetzal formed in 1990 and has worked to fight HIV/AIDS in Nicaragua. Canning also said the group has been offering COVID-19 tests to LGBT people who live in Managua, the country’s capital.

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is among the groups that have funded Fundación Xochiquetzal.

The government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in recent months have targeted opposition leaders and other groups — journalists and human rights activists — and NGOs ahead of national elections that are scheduled to take place on Nov. 7.

Confidencial reported the government this month has sought to close 45 NGOs.

The U.S. since July has sanctioned more than 100 officials and their immediate family members who the State Department says are “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy, including those with responsibility for, or complicity in, human rights abuses such as suppression of peaceful protests.”

“For the past three months, President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have intimidated anyone opposed to their efforts to entrench their power in Nicaragua, including through the arrest of dozens of political candidates, journalists, student and business leaders, NGO workers, and human rights advocates, and through the disqualification of any candidate seeking to run against them in the Nov. 7 elections,” said the State Department in an Aug. 20 press release that announced sanctions against 19 election officials and members of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front party.

A Nicaraguan LGBT activist who now lives in Costa Rica told the Washington Blade on Tuesday described the government’s decision to shut down Fundación Xochiquetzal and other NGOs as “shameful.”

“It doesn’t want organized groups and above all feminist and LGBTIQ+ groups that have been in long-term struggles,” said the activist.

The Blade has decided not to publish the activist’s name in order to protect their identity.


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