Wednesday, January 19, 2011

U.S. Embassy in Honduras expresses concern for recent killings of members of the LGBT community

Photo: LGBT rights advocates hold a press conference on the streets of Tegucigalpa on January 13th, 2011. The banner reads "No to hate crimes" and it highlights the brutality used in the recent murders of transgender women and gay men who have been stabbed, shot, strangled and incinerated (Source: La Prensa)
Earlier today The United States Embassy in Honduras released the following statement (Spanish version here):
United States Embassy Notes Concern for Recent Killings of Members of the LGBT Community
January 19, 2011

Tegucigalpa - The U.S. Embassy notes with concern the five killings that have been committed against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community since December 18, with the latest being in San Pedro Sula January 17.

The protection of Honduran law extends to all its citizens regardless of sexual orientation and the Lobo Administration has repeatedly expressed its commitment to defend the rights of all Honduran citizens.

It is in this regard that we call upon Honduran law enforcement authorities to vigorously investigate these crimes, bring to justice the perpetrators, and take all necessary steps to protect LGBT persons, who are among the most vulnerable to violence and abuse in Honduras.
It's the highest-profile official statement I have seen since Honduran media began profiling a series of gruesome murders, mostly against the transgender community, that have taken place since December 18th and since the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission launched an action alert demanding authorities investigate these crimes (Warning: Graphic images).

On Monday, the Geneva-based UNAIDS also released a statement condemning the murders:
UNAIDS condemns killings of transgender people in Honduras

17 January 2011

GENEVA, 17 January 2011—UNAIDS is concerned by the recent reported killings of transgender people in Honduras. Since late November 2010, five individuals from the transgender community have been reportedly killed in separate incidents in the country. The motive for these killings has not been determined.

“UNAIDS urges the Government of Honduras to take every step to investigate these killings thoroughly,” said Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “All forms of discrimination, including transphobia, block access to HIV prevention programmes and impact the quality of care for people living with HIV.”

Honduras has committed to protecting the human rights of all individuals in various international and regional resolutions. “I urge all states to provide adequate protection to transgender people,” said Mr Sidibé.

UNAIDS expresses its full support for the community of transgender people in Honduras and for the Latin American Network of Transgender People (REDLACTRANS) in their efforts to stop intimidation and violence against transgender individuals.
On January 13th, a number of LGBT rights advocates protested outside the national Public Prosecutor's office demanding action.  Holding banners that called for an end to hate crimes and graphic images of murdered transgender women that had been featured on the cover of several local tabloids, activists argued that the government-sponsored institution had done little to stem the violence.

According to La Prensa, activists called attention to the killing of of well-known and respected LGBT rights activist Walter Trochez on December 13th of 2009 and the fact that his murder was still unresolved a year after his murder.

José Zembrano, one of the protesters, said that there was hate in Honduran society towards sexual diversity.  "Just in the last 45 days we have learned of the killing of five of our [transgender] friends", he said.

The activists said they knew of 31 transgender women who had been murdered since June 28th of 2009.

Later, La Tribuna reported that Sandra Ponce, the Public Prosecutor herself, had stepped out of her office and expressed concern about these crimes:
The Prosecutor's Office is giving priority to every case, independently of whether it's our responsibility to pursue state officials who commit human rights violations while on duty; nevertheless, taking note that there might be an element of discrimination and homophobia in these killings, we have put them under investigation.
On January 17th, as today's U.S. Embassy statement mentions, La Prensa reported yet another murder of a transgender woman. The sixth transgender woman found murdered, according to the paper.


libhom said...

The embassy's expression of concern would be more credible if the Obama administration wasn't supporting the coup government behind the killings.

Blabbeando said...

The bizarre thing is that the U.S. Embassy's statement says different things depending on the language.

In English it says that they are 'concerned'. In Spanish they say 'con suma preocupación' ['with the uttermost concern'] which is slightly different.

I do have to say that this would have never happened under W.