Every month, outside the Ministerio Público (Public Ministry) in downtown Tegucigalpa, Honduras, LGBTs protest 85 unsolved murders. The protests are happening on the 13th of each month “because Walter Tróchez was killed on December 13, 2009,” said leader Donis Reyes.
Tróchez was a political activist and LGBT rights leader who was killed after threats and previous attacks. His death led to worldwide protests, including by Amnesty International.
LGBT Honduran groups say that there have been 54 murders since January 2010. In all cases, the police have not arrested and prosecuted the perpetrators, Reyes said. “There is total impunity, no murder solved,” Reyes said.
The protesters were dressed in costumes that mimicked death and the goddess Themis, who represents justice, and carrying signs that said: “No more crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Honduras” and “Justice for Walter Tróchez.”
In early 2011, representatives of the LGBT community met with Human Rights Minister, Ana Pineda, to discuss the problems. The demonstrators presented the project “Building Public Safety Initiative in Tegucigalpa Sexual Diversity,” which asked the Public Ministry, in particular the Human Rights Prosecutor, to investigate the deaths of their comrades and make a robust response.
Pineda has said that:
“Homophobia is a reprehensible act from every point of view when it is an individual doing it, but even worse when it is because of an action or lack thereof by a state servant.”
Both the United Nations and the U.S. government have expressed concern over the murder of LGBTs and have requested the State to comply with measures to ensure their safety and punish crimes against them.
Since the 2009 coup, LGBT groups have reported increased targeted and brutal persecution and many people have fled the country. The persecution against the LGBT community is more than just political. It reflects a worrying change in the attitude and policy of the Honduran government from that of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Fundamentalist religious groups have a large degree of influence within the elite interests that were behind the coup; the same groups who openly denounce homosexuality as a sickness.
“We knew what a coup meant and how that would harm us. That’s why we protested against [the coup],” said Iván Banegas, coordinator of the group Colectivo Violeta, an LGBT rights group.
“After the coup, the army and police came down especially hard on the transsexuals, many of whom live on prostitution and were in the streets in the middle of the curfews,” he said.
However, the situation was bad even before the coup. In May 2009, one month before the coup, Human Rights Watch warned that Honduran police systematically abused LGBT Hondurans.
Those fleeing to the US, however, face an asylum system which may reject them, or in the case of Honduran Miguel Caceres Juarez, continue to detain him (he was released after a campaign) despite a judge granting ‘withholding of removal,’ a form of immigration protection for people who have suffered or fear persecution in their native countries.
Photo of 2010 Tegucigalpa demonstration for Walter Tróchez hondurasblog2010