(New York) - The killing of an HIV/AIDS outreach worker on December 14, 2009, is part of a pattern of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Honduras that seems to have accelerated in the turbulent months since the June 28 coup, Human Rights Watch said today.
The organization called on Honduran judicial authorities to open full investigations of all the reported killings, and to provide human rights training for the police and the judiciary about sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The mounting violence against people who look or love differently in Honduras reflects a crisis of intolerance," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.
The latest attack was on Walter Orlando Trochez, 27, who had been active both in the LGBT movement and in political activity opposing the coup. He was shot in the chest by an unidentified person late on the night of December 14 in downtown Tegucigalpa, near the Central Church.
Indyra Mendoza of Cattrachas, a local lesbian organization, told Human Rights Watch that he managed to call his friends on his mobile phone after the shooting. When they arrived at the scene, an ambulance was taking Trochez to Hospital Escuela, where he died. An autopsy revealed that he died from one shot to the chest.
On December 5, Trochez reported to the Attorney General's Office that four armed men in civilian clothes attempted to kidnap him on the previous day. He said there had been a series of threats against his life on the grounds of his participation in the resistance movement.
"Walter used to go with me to recognize the bodies of our transgender friends when they were killed," Mendoza said. "Now I had to go on my own to identify his body."
Since June 28, the National Criminal Investigation Department in Tegucigalpa has documented at least seven killings of transgender and gay people in Honduras, including Trochez. Local LGBT advocates have asked the prosecutor's office for information about approximately nine more reported killings in the second largest city - San Pedro Sula and neighboring cities.
In "Not Worth a Penny: Human Rights Abuses against Transgender People in Honduras", a report released in May, Human Rights Watch documented the killing of 17 transgender women between 2005 and 2008.
In the report, Human Rights Watch called on Honduran authorities to:
- Repeal provisions of the Law on Police and Social Affairs that penalize public conduct on arbitrary and vaguely defined grounds. Authorities should send a clear message to all law enforcement institutions that violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated, the report said;
- Conduct independent, impartial, and effective investigations into the general phenomenon of homophobic and transphobic violence and into specific allegations of police brutality, extortion, and ill-treatment against LGBT people, leading to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators;
- Enact legislation that provides specific protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, and gender identity and gender expression.