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President Porfirio Lobo Sosa
Antiguo Edificio de Cancillería, Edificio José Cecilio del Valle
Boulevard Juan Pablo II
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Dear President Porfirio Lobo Sosa,

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading organizations dedicated to defending and promoting the fundamental rights of all people around the world. We investigate and expose human rights violations in over 90 countries around the world and seek to have perpetrators held accountable.

Today, I write on behalf of Human Rights Watch to urge you to ensure prompt and effective investigations into the recent spate of murders of transgender women in Honduras and to publicly condemn verbal, physical, and sexual violence against lesbians, gay men, and transgender people.

In May 2009, Human Rights Watch published a report that documented a range of violence faced by transgender people in Honduras because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, as well as police inaction and failure to investigate such cases. Since then, there have been 34 reported homicides of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, particularly of transgender women; the latter have been termed transimicidios (transimicides) by the LGBT community, for the frequency with which transgender women are being killed. 

While these are not isolated incidents, I want to draw your attention specifically to the murders of six transgender women in the last two months. In almost all the incidents, the women had been tortured before being killed-they were strangled, stoned, stabbed, and burned to death, suggesting that these crimes were motivated by bias against the individuals.  The police have yet to make a single arrest in any of the cases.

As you know, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Honduras is a party, affirms the equality of all people. The UN Human Rights Committee, which authoritatively interprets the ICCPR and monitors states' compliance to it, has held that "sexual orientation" is a status protected under the ICCPR from discrimination. The continuum that exists between "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" has also been noted and touched upon by several UN bodies. Also, on November 15, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly issued the draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Honduras, in which various American and European states concluded that Honduras must take action to adopt legal policies to protect its most vulnerable groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and to investigate the violence and abuse, including killings, faced by the LGBT community. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights has also recently expressed its concern about violence against the transgender community and has called on Honduras to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

We urge you to implement Hondurans' obligations in the aforementioned regional and international treaties, as well as to fulfill the promise of equality and non-discrimination contained in the Honduran constitution, and also to send a clear message that crimes against the LGBT community will be treated as grave matters by your government, and perpetrators will be brought to justice swiftly.


Boris O. Dittrich
Acting Director
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program

Óscar Álvarez Guerrero, Minister of Security

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