Violence Against TransPeople on Rise in Honduras

Transgendered sex workers and advocates have been openly targeted for violence and murder in Honduras in the waning days of 2008 and it now seems 2009 will be no better.

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(arwen trilce el maricon)

Five transwomen were killed between October and December of 2008 without any resolution. Yasmin was killed on October 30th. Bibi, another trans sex worker, was shot the following day while working in the Obelisco. And on December 17, 2009 a third trans sex worker was stabbed death while working. An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed 14 times. Two others were killed in December but have not been identified.

This week transgendered activist Cynthia Nicole was assassinated on the street. According to witnesses, 3 men in a blue car pulled up alongside her and shot her 3 times in the chest and once in the head before driving away.

Nicole was the leader of Colectivo Violeta a transrights and health advocacy group. Her particular focus was outreach to sex workers, making the deaths in the previous months all the more devastating to her. She was said to be advocating for better protection of trans sex workers as well as helping raise awareness about remaining safe within the community.
The queer community as a whole is reeling not only from this recent batch of murders but also the ongoing targeting of lesbian and gay Hondurans. The Lesbian-Gay Rainbow Association of Comayagüela (Arcoiris), which operates a small shelter and works on outreach and gay rights, reported that between January and March of 2008, seven gay and lesbian people were killed in hate crimes. They also reported that many in the community are fleeing Honduras for fear of being next. The Honduran Lesbian Feminist group Cattrachas confirms that the transcommunity is “terrified” and many are seeking asylum in other countries. (As of now, the U.S. does not offer asylum to GLBTQ people for homophobia or transphobia.) The last estimate done by NGOs showed that over 200 GLBTQ people had been killed in Honduras between 1993-2003, that number has obviously risen unchecked.

The Honduran Police’s own actions have made the situation worse. They are said to have assaulted several transactivists during an AIDs awareness campaign in Tegucigalpa in 2008. They also beat and detained Donny Reyes, a member of Arcoiris, on March 18, 2008. He was taken into custody after leaving Rainbow House for reasons that still have not been explained. When the police were done abusing him themselves, they placed him in a jail cell with 57 gang members whom they allegedly told his sexual orientation. Reyes was raped and beaten by his cellmates repeatedly for the next 6 hours before being released.

Police have also been known to stake out Acoiris regularly, encouraging harassment of its members. In 2007, they reportedly watched transgendered sex worker Debora be harassed by 5 men. As they threw hir to the ground, ripping off hir clothes, witnesses reported the police encouraging her attackers to “kill the fa—t” while detaining hir two friends. When Debora defended herself, the police arrested hir and charged hir with attempted murder (even tho her attacker sustained no life threatening injuries and hir actions were self-defense). She received no medical attention for her injuries while in prison awaiting trial. Between the raids and the harassment Acoiris has had to move its shelter and headquarters.

Like many other places, including the U.S., Honduras has no national laws protecting GLBTQ people from discrimination. Further cases are assigned traditional genders for statistical purpose preventing a concerted effort to track and analyze violence against transgendered people. This failure makes it that much easier to target and kill them without punishment since no one is keep track of the similarities or shared evidence in the cases.

The Honduran government has also recently refused to recognize the status of any NGO with GLBTQ rights in their bylaws or organization’s goals after a backlash for doing so in 2003. Also like some states in the U.S., they have banned both gay marriage and adoption.

Despite this, Indyra Mendoza, Director of Cattrachas said

“But these attacks will not silence the community in Honduras, and we will continue to work to ensure that the rights of transgender people are recognized and protected.”

You can raise your voice in defense of the rights of Honduran GLBTQ people by signing the Human Rights Watch petition the UN to endorse The Yogyakarta Principles. Click here for the petition.

If you speak Spanish, you can also express your solidarity with transgendered sex workers and the GLBTQ community through the Acoiris outreach program:

Asociación Arcoiris
Colonia Palmira, Calle Las Acacias, Calzada El Olivo, Casa 238,
Esquina opuesta al edificio Italia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: +504 208 2834
+504 238 8447
Email: arcoirisghn@ yahoo.com

information for this post came from:

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