Guatemala asks LGBT pride marchers to have 'good manners' after bid to ban event

Participants attend the LGBTQ+ Pride Parade in Guatemala City

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -Guatemala's top court on Friday issued a resolution that called for "good manners" and authorities to protect moral values at this year's annual LGBT pride parade, after a lawyer sought to ban the march and prevent children from attending.

Guatemala, a largely Catholic country of some 17 million people, is one of a handful of countries in Latin America that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.

While resolving that the march could take place, Guatemala's constitutional court issued an order urging parade participants to protest peacefully and calling for the "protection of spiritual and moral social values, especially in the case of children and teenagers."

Roberto Antonio Cano, the lawyer who sought to ban the march, argued that the parade "contains immoral, sexual, depraved scenes, contrary to the moral and integral development of children."

March organizers said the court resolution stigmatizes and discriminates against sexual diversity.

"The parade is ready to go and we will not give in to intimidation attempts," the organizers' committee said on X. "This is a peaceful, civic and communal demonstration where diverse people are united by the celebration of who we are."

Guatemala's Congress in 2022 attempted to pass a law that would have criminalized same-sex unions and raised prison sentences for women seeking abortions, but it was shelved when conservative former President Alejandro Giammattei threatened to veto it, saying it would violate the constitution as well as international agreements.

Current President Bernardo Arevalo said during his election campaign last year that while he did not plan to promote same-sex marriage, he would work to prevent discrimination against people for their sexual orientation.

Later on Friday, the government issued a statement saying it would safeguard international and constitutional rights, including the right to peaceful demonstration.

"We invite all public institutions not to restrict, limit or diminish them," it said.

Gay pride parades are set to take place in major cities across the world this weekend.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Brendan O'Boyle and Leslie Adler)