Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa vows to fight homophobia in wake of NYC murder

In a week that saw the remains of José Osvaldo Sucuzhañay flown from the United States to Ecuador to be buried near his family yesterday, Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa (right) has vowed to fight against homophobia and xenophobia in his country and elsewhere.

From a Spanish-language article by AFP, an excerpt of which I have translated to English:
The Ecuadorean immigrant José Sucuzhañay, of 31 years of age, was "vilely assassinated for xenophobic reasons, for homophobia; They mistook him for a homosexual and was with his brother" as they walked in Brooklyn, New York, said Correa.

"We will fight together ... to forever uproot these aberrations of certain maladjusted [individuals], uproot them from the face of the earth, from humanity: Xenophobia, homophobia and all kinds of discrimination, all kinds of violence," he said.
Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel were attacked in the early morning of December 7th by what are described as three black men who wielded a bat. While Romel was able to escape without serious injury, José passed away on December 12th after spending days in a coma at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

President Correa's comments were similar to those made yesterday by another of the Sucuzhañay brothers during José's burial in Cuenca, Ecuador. From The Associated Press:
"My heart is broken and so is that of all my family," his brother German said during a funeral Mass in the cathedral of the southern town of Cuenca. Sucuzhanay's coffin was scattered with roses and covered with the Ecuadorean flag.

"The brutal killing of my brother Osvaldo is the result of xenophobia, of homophobia and racism that our compatriots are experiencing in these times," he said, calling on Ecuador's government to demand that U.S. authorities solve the crime.

Interestingly it was yet another Sucuzhañay brother who lives in New York that had previously denied that any anti-gay slurs had been shouted during the attack as police reports and most accounts picked up by media. From a December 12th article in El Diario La Prensa:
[Diego] Sucuzhañay denied the versions [of events] given by authorities that his brothers Romel and José Osvaldo were shouted anti-gay phrases.

"My brother Romel told me that they shouted insults against Latinos, that they shouted 'Hispanics, sons of bitches,' but not anti-gay insults."
The apparent unease in calling the attack a homophobic one also was reflected by calls for action from certain Latino leaders and Ecuadorean community organizations in New York who highlighted the xenophobic aspect of insults that were allegedly shouted during the attack but never made any mention that there might have been anti-gay slurs shouted as well.

President Correa might have chosen the same route but he seems to understand that the fact that the Sucuzhañay brothers were attacked because a few guys thought they were a gay couple is as troubling as the fact that they were attacked because they were Latinos. Not surprising, then, that he is one of the most progressive Latin American presidents on LGBT issues.

Previously:

re: José Sucuzhañay:
re: President Rafael Correa

1 comment:

Tony said...

Shocking story. But discrimination must be dealt with swiftly.