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A Honduran trans woman participates in the Pride March in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on August 24, 2019. © 2019 Mirte Postema/Human Rights Watch

The LGBT Pride March in Honduras’s San Pedro Sula, which drew 450 people, was the uplifting culmination of a week of Pride activities that also included more sober reflections, such as a candlelight vigil for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people killed in Honduras.

LGBT activists led the August 24 march with a banner that read, “Honduras inhabitable LGBTI,” meaning “Honduras unlivable [for] LGBTI.” Despite the activists’ courage and pride, which I also observed at Tegucigalpa’s march on the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in May, violence against LGBT people does make Honduras unlivable for many.

In a country where many cannot safely express their sexual orientation or gender identity publicly, it is hard to measure how much violence LGBT people in Honduras suffer. The Honduran government told Human Rights Watch it has no data on how many victims of violence are LGBT.

Absent official statistics, Lesbian Network Cattrachas maintains an observatory tallying cases of violence against LGBT people based on media monitoring and direct reports. According to Cattrachas, in 2018, 25 LGBT people were killed: 16 gay men, 5 trans people, and 4 lesbian women. And the situation appears to be worsening: the number of killings tallied between January and August of 2019 – 13 gay men, 7 trans people, and 6 lesbian women – already outpaces the entire year of 2018. San Pedro Sula is located in the region where Cattrachas has documented the highest rates of violence against LGBT people.

Hondurans endure extraordinary levels of violence regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Gang violence abounds – in some cases Human Rights Watch investigated, LGBT victims may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But in other instances, violence appears targeted. Shakira, a trans woman also known by her nickname La Loba (the Wolf), was killed on June 9 in Choloma, 10 miles north of San Pedro Sula. A person who saw Shakira’s body told me her face was mutilated with a rock, her penis was cut off, and a note was left by her body that said, “[this] is the first one, two more to go.”

In the face of such violence, a pride march is an act of defiance.

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