Amnesty International, through its network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender) groups, held a series of demonstrations across the world last week.

The protestors called for the calling for the decriminalisation of sodomy in Nicaragua and called for the repeal of article 204 of the country’s Penal Code.

This article criminalises not only gay men, lesbians and bisexual people in same-sex relationships, but is vague enough to permit the prosecution of individuals for activities such as campaigning for LGBT rights or anyone providing sexual health information or services.

Amnesty International considers the use of sodomy laws to imprison individuals for same-sex relations in private to be a grave violation of human rights.

The vast majority of countries throughout the Americas have abolished their sodomy laws while Nicaragua introduced article 204 in September 1992.

“Anyone who induces, promotes, propagandises or practices in scandalous form sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomy and shall incur 1 to 3 years’ imprisonment,” it reads.

Last week protests were held outside Nicaraguan embassies and consulates in Germany, Canada, Chile, Iceland, Mexico, Paraguay, Sweden and Taiwan.

“Article 204 contradicts numerous provisions in international human rights law,” said Amnesty in a press release.

“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nicaragua acceded without reservations in 1980, protects the rights to freedom of expression (article 19), freedom from arbitrary interference with the right to privacy (article 17) and freedom of conscience (article 18).

“It affirms the equality of all people before the law and the right to freedom from discrimination (articles 2 and 26).

“Nicaragua’s “sodomy” law clearly violates all these articles as well as the provisions of other human rights instruments that Nicaragua has ratified, such as the American Convention on Human Rights.”

Since the landmark 1994 case of Toonen v. Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors states’ compliance with the ICCPR, has constantly urged states not only to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality, but also to enshrine the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation into their constitutions or other fundamental laws.