Mexico's En Linea Directa reports that, on Monday, 42 year-old José Ernesto Leal Rodriguez was found stabbed to death in his apartment (WARNING: Link contains very graphic photos).
The gay rights leader, who lived in Texas-bordering city of Matamoros, had recently held a press conference calling for the state of Tamaulipas to adopt similar same-sex partnership measures as those recently adopted by Mexico City last year.
La Jornada says that Leal Rodriguez was seen as the spokesperson of the city's lesbian and gay community and received a Gay Medal in 2006 for being one of the first persons to openly demand equal rights in the region. They also mention that just six weeks ago he handed a statement in the name of more than 300 gays and lesbians in Matamoros to the city's mayor demanding that the city's authorities stop arresting and detaining people based on their sexual orientation and charging them 920 pesos in exchange for their liberty.
Investigators found a kitchen knife in the apartment which they believe was used in the stabbing and say they have collected finger-prints left in the refrigerator. They tell La Jornada that the violent nature of the crime and the fact that there were no signs of forced entry into the apartment leads them to believe that the murder was a crime of passion.
UPDATE: Hoy Tamaulipas, in its January 18, 2007 edition, reports that a federal deputy from an office that oversees crimes against vulnerable communities was sent to Matamoros to investigate the murder and to challenge police activities endorsed by the local government allowing for the detention of gays since April of 2006.
"Enough with wanting to resolve the crime by saying that it was a crime of passion and sweeping it under a rug when we could have a hate crime before us since it is a crime [commited] against a homosexual; this is to say that we have come all the way to Tamaulipas to see the reality that people like us are living in this border town," said Deputy David Sanchez Camacho, who happens to be gay.
He will also ask for the local government to cunduct police trainings to make sure that local authorities know that being gay is not a crime and should not be grounds for discrimination or jail.
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