11 Honduran Zelaya Flies Into Exile, Ending Crisis 1/10 (non-gay article)
August 31, 2004 – San Diego Union-Tribune
Religious leaders criticize Honduran government for recognizing gays groups
by Freddy Cuevas
Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Catholic and Protestant churches joined Tuesday in criticizing a government decision to grant legal recognition to three homosexual rights groups. "It’s sad that the government is giving its blessing to homosexuals," Roman Catholic Church spokesman Jesus Mora told a news conference. He said the government measure implies "that kind of behavior is acceptable." The government on Friday granted legal recognition to three groups – the Violet Collective, the Gay Community and the Gay-Lesbian Group – a relatively mundane step that essentially gives them the right to act before courts and government institutions. The deputy justice minister, Fernando Suazo, said the measure does not authorize gay marriage, but would help overcome discrimination.
Suazo said the 15-year wait for action on the groups’ petition "is due to discrimination because all Honduran citizens have the right to association." A spokesman for the groups, Nelson Arambu, said, "We are part of a country with problems that also affect the gay community – labor, education, health, human rights violations, poverty and housing." But many religious leaders saw the measure as support for the homosexual community. "The church looks with love upon those who suffer from any illness, but homosexuality is a deviation of a psychological character," said Mora, a priest. "The church calls on them to live an upright life."
The president of the Evangelical Fraternity, Osvaldo Canales, called news of the government measure "a bucket of cold water." "Recognizing those people is opening a space for promiscuity," Canales said. He said that "homosexuals and lesbians live in sin … and that should not be tolerated." Eight homosexual rights organizations in Honduras claim about 5,000 members.
January 19, 2005 – Los Angeles Times, CA
Honduras Measure to Ban Same-Sex Marriage Mobilizes Rights Groups
Honduras Measure to Ban Same-Sex Marriage Mobilizes Rights Groups – Sponsor of the proposal, backed by a burgeoning evangelical movement, slams acceptance of gay unions in parts of the U.S. and Europe.
by Reed Johnson, Times Staff Writer
Tegucigalpa, Honduras — From his fifth-floor office in the National Congress building, Jose Celin Discua has seen the enemy, and it is us. The veteran congressman has been watching what he regards as a surging tide of immorality sweeping the United States and other parts of the Western world.
He’s determined to stop it from reaching Honduras, even if he has to rewrite the law of the land. "In various countries of the world — Holland, Spain, various states of the United States — there is already [same-sex] marriage," Discua says. "It is already coming, and it is already accepted." But not in this impoverished, crime-racked Central American nation of 6.8 million. In October, Discua sponsored a congressional motion to ban marriage and adoption by homosexuals.
Strongly backed by the country’s swelling evangelical Christian movement, as well as the Roman Catholic Church, the motion passed unanimously. If the measure passes a second legislative vote, as required by federal law, the constitution will be amended to read that marriage only between a man and a woman is legally valid. In effect, Honduras would implement nationwide what 11 U.S. states voted for in ballot measures in November and what President Bush says he hopes to enact across the U.S.: a comprehensive ban on gay marriage.
"We hope that next year they will ratify it, in which we recognize that the state of matrimony is between a man and a woman," says the Rev. Oswaldo Canales, president of the Evangelical Fraternity of Honduras, which represents 98% of the country’s estimated 2 million evangelicals. "For me, a homosexual is like an alcoholic, like an addict that needs help. They are sick morally and have a sickness of the soul."
Marriage rights aren’t a high priority for Honduran gay rights activists, but the proposed constitutional ban has mobilized them against what they see as another attempt to relegate gay and lesbian Hondurans to second-class citizenship. The activists say they’re fed up with job discrimination, police brutality, hate crimes and the media’s stereotyping of them as prostitutes, junkies and delinquents. They place some of the blame for the issue on the U.S.
With national elections coming up, gay activists say Honduran conservatives are taking a cue from their counterparts to the north and trying to rally support with the gay-marriage issue. "The same political campaign that Bush [started] is what" Honduran conservatives are doing, says Edgardo Javier Medina, 43, of the gay rights group Kukulkan. "It is the same line against homosexuals."
Around the world, the subject of gay marriage is bringing political debate to a boil. In Spain, the government of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has approved a draft law to legalize gay marriage and adoption, despite fervent opposition by Spain’s Roman Catholic authorities. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has said that his Liberal Party government would introduce legislation in 2005 permitting gay marriage, although the Conservative Party opposes it.
In Honduras, the debate over gay rights has been heating up since Aug. 27, when the country’s minister for the interior and justice, minister of health, and human rights commissioner granted legal status to three gay and lesbian rights organizations, allowing them to officially represent gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites and act on their behalf. It didn’t take long for a backlash to begin.
On Sept. 22, the National Congress recommended that President Ricardo Maduro suspend this legal recognition, which one legislator characterized as an attack on the family and public order. In November, representatives of about 80 evangelical churches filed a petition demanding that the government rescind its recognition of the three groups. Attorney Paulette Patiño, who represents the evangelicals, says that her clients are not homophobic but object to the idea that homosexuality is a normal form of sexuality. As she and the Rev. Canales see it, a small minority of gay Hondurans are trying to impose their will on the rest of the country. Although opposition to expanding gay rights has support from Honduras’ two largest political parties, a few dissenting voices are being heard from the leftist Party of a Unified Democracy.
Gay rights groups are working with the party and smaller political entities, hoping they may yet be able to cobble together enough of a coalition to turn back the conservatives. Doris Gutierrez, a Unified Democracy deputy, says many of those seeking to reduce gay rights are engaged in demagoguery. She believes that if a plebiscite was held, the majority of Hondurans would not oppose gay marriage. "This has been manipulated by the media," she says. "And there is a lot of machismo in this culture. The majority of the [legislators] are men."
Honduras’ gay community, like those of most Central American countries, is small and politically weak by U.S. or European standards. Though homosexuality is not illegal, only about 5,000 people belong to the country’s eight or so gay rights organizations. There are no identifiably "gay" neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa, a city of more than 1 million, Medina says. As in other countries, gay activism in Honduras was spurred by the global AIDS crisis in the early and mid-1980s. Although the crisis galvanized gays politically, it also may have reinforced the Honduran public’s negative impressions of homosexuals.
"The papers here in our country have been very coarse, very stupid. They have been very yellow," says Marco Antonio Lopez, coordinator general of the Violet Collective, the nation’s oldest gay rights group. "These crude conservatives … are bothering us a great deal, more when we are in [an election] year." Despite the attention that’s been showered on the issue, Medina and other activists say that obtaining marriage and adoption rights is less urgent for gays in Honduras than passing legislation against workplace discrimination or curbing police brutality against homosexuals.
"Our priority now is the right to live," Medina says. But opponents of gay marriage believe they’re helping to curb a host of related pathologies and moral failings. Canales, 45, believes that homosexuality is one of several behaviors destroying traditional Honduran family life, which, he acknowledges, has its own grave problems. He believes lesbianism is increasing because of heterosexual domestic violence against women, a byproduct of what he disapprovingly calls a macho culture. Canales, who has preached at the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles and will be attending a White House breakfast with Bush in February, also says the controversy over gay marriage in the U.S. has helped shape the debate in Latin nations.
"Clearly, it reverberates in these countries," he says. Canales says he chose to situate his sprawling church in the capital’s poor, haphazard Comayaguela district to minister to the area’s prostitutes and drug addicts. Donny Reyes chose to start a gay rights group, Arcoiris, in the area for the same reasons. Reyes, 29, wants the new group to reach out to a younger, wider cross-section of gays and lesbians. Reyes and his boyfriend, Ariel Medina, 21, don’t know whether the amendment will pass, but they’re resolved to keep fighting. "Perhaps we will not win the battle," Medina says, "but we will continue with the war."
March 30, 2005 – The Associated Press
Honduras Bans Gay Marriage & Adoption
Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Honduran lawmakers have unanimously approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples. The vote by Honduras’ National Assembly came just months after the government formally recognized several gay civil rights groups – a move that outraged church leaders in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. The constitutional amendment also refuses to recognize same-sex marriages or unions that occurred legally in other countries, Legislative Secretary Juan Hernandez said.
Gay marriage receives almost no recognition in Latin American countries, hindering the ability of same-sex couples to adopt children. Two exceptions are Colombia and Brazil, where initiatives to extend legal rights to same-sex couples have emerged recently.
"There is a huge number of lesbians and gays who are anxious about formalizing their unions with someone of the same sex and adopting children," said Honduran Lesbian Group spokeswoman Adela Martinez, who decried congress’ decision.
The Evangelical Federation, a group of 180 churches in Honduras, said it would pressure the government to go even further than the constitutional amendment by withdrawing official recognition from gay rights groups. In response, some of the groups have threatened to publicly identify gay government officials, business people and members of the country’s social elite.
In Brazil, civil unions between same-sex couples are allowed in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. In January, a federal prosecutor asked a judge to order courts across Brazil to perform gay marriages. The judge has not yet ruled on the petition. In Colombia, a senator last year introduced legislation that would recognize "free unions" between same-sex partners. But there has been little support in that country for same-sex marriages or adoptions by same-sex couples. Costa Rican authorities have rejected same-sex marriage, but a transvestite last year won a lengthy custody battle with a woman who tried to reclaim her child several years after entrusting him with the little boy’s care.
29 March 07 – action.web.ca
Honduras Donny Reyes (m), treasurer of LGBT rights group
UA 78/07 Fear for safety
LGBT rights activist Donny Reyes was reportedly arbitrarily detained by police in the Comayag€ ¦üela district of the capital, Tegucigalpa, on 18 March. The officers beat him and then took him to a police station where they left him in a cell for six and a half hours, where other detainees repeatedly raped and beat him, allegedly encouraged by a police officer. Donny Reyes has lodged a formal complaint about this. Since then police appear to have attempted to intimidate him. Amnesty International believes that he, and other members of the organisation he heads, may be in grave danger.
Donny Reyes is the treasurer of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights group Asociaci€ ¦ón L€ ¦ésbico, Gay, Travesti y Bisexual Arcoiris, which was set up in 2003. The group’s objective is to train human rights defenders and promote HIV/AIDS prevention. On 18 March at about 3am he had walked out of the Arcoiris offices to stand with a colleague while she waited for a taxi. A few moments later, six police officers in two police cars stopped next to them and asked them for ID. His colleague had none with her, but the police officers were only interested in Donny Reyes. He showed them his ID card but they told him to get into the car. He refused and began to argue, pointing out that he had done nothing wrong. After a few moments they allegedly began beating him and forced him to get into the car. They abused him, saying, among other things, a estos maricones hay que desaparecerlos de aqu€ ¦í ("we have to disappear these queers from here").
Upon arrival at Comayag€ ¦üela’s Police Station, Donny Reyes was put in a cell with 57 men, most of whom had been arrested hours earlier. A police officer allegedly shouted to them Miren, aqu€ ¦í les traigo a una princesita, ya saben lo que tienen que hacer ("Look, I’m bringing you a little princess, you know what to do"). Donny was then beaten, stripped and raped by four men, allegedly members of street gangs.
At around 10.30am those who could pay a bribe of 200 lempiras (approximately US$10) were told to move into a courtyard, which gave onto the street, to be released. Donny consented to pay the bribe and while waiting for his belongings, the police officer guarding him left, so Donny ran away. Three days later he reported what had happened to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and to a senior police officer. He has also undergone medical forensic examinations to record the violence he had suffered.
Since 27 March police cars have parked several times a day, for around five minutes each time, in front of Arcoiris’s offices in an apparent attempt to prevent Donny Reyes from pursuing his complaint.
Police raided Arcoiris’s offices on 12 June and 1 July 2006, taking documents and destroying computers and furniture, though nothing valuable was stolen. Between the two raids, the then Director of Arcoiris, Jos€ ¦é Richard Figueroa, was assaulted in the street. He left Honduras in December and is seeking asylum in Spain. No one has been brought to justice. In October 2006 Arcoiris applied to the Ministry of Interior for official NGO status. A decision is pending.
According to local NGOs, some 200 LGBT people were murdered in Honduras between 1991 and 2003. Few of these killings have been officially registered as hate crimes; fewer still have been investigated or had those responsible brought to justice.
Recommended Action: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:
– expressing concern for the safety of Arcoiris’s members; in particular, Donny Reyes, who was arbitrarily detained by police on 18 March and allegedly raped by other detainees at the instigation of a police officer;
– urging the authorities to carry out a full and prompt investigation, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice;
– urging the authorities to ensure that the rights of LGBT people are protected and that they are not subjected to discrimination on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity;
– calling on the authorities to publicly condemn any human rights violations committed against the LGBT community, making it clear that such actions are totally unacceptable and will always be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted;
Public Security Minister
€ ¦Álvaro Romero
Minister of Public Security, Ministry of Public Security
Edificio Pujol, 4to. Piso, Col. Palmira (Blvd. Moraz€ ¦án), Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: +504 220 4352
Salutation: Dear Minister/Estimado Sr. Ministro
Leonidas Rosa Bautista
Fiscal General del Estado, Ministerio P€ ¦úblico, Lomas del Guijarro,
Fax: +504 221 5667
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/Estimado Sr. Fiscal General
Milton Jim€ ¦énez Puerto
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, Secretar€ ¦ía de Relaciones Exteriores
Colonia Miraflores, Boulevard de las Fuerzas Armadas
Contiguo al Palacio de Justicia, Edificio Antigua Casa Presidencial,
Fax: +504 234 1484
Head of the Police Comisionado Salom€ ¦ón Escoto Salinas
Jefe de la Polic€ ¦ía Nacional Preventiva, Apartado Postal 3159,
Fax: +504 237 9070
National Human Rights Commission
Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de Honduras
Colonia Florencia Norte, Boulevar Suyapa, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: +504 232-6894
Asociaci€ ¦ón Arcoiris
Avenida Rep€ ¦ública de Chile, Bloque 2, Casa 701, Barrio San Rafael, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: +504 208 2834
+504 238 8447
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and to diplomatic representatives of Honduras accredited to your country.
Please Send Appeals Immediately. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 May 2007.
December 2008 – books.google.com
Heterogender Homosexuality in Honduras, By Manuel Fernández-Alemany, Stephen O. Murray
An ethnography of the sexual culture of males who have sex with males in the lower-class part of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Heterogender Homosexuality in Honduras
By Manuel Fernández-Alemany, Stephen O. Murray
Published by iUniverse, 2002
ISBN 0595226817, 9780595226818
January 13, 2009 – PinkNews
Murders highlight increasing violence against trans people in Honduras
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A leading human rights group has claimed that the murder of a trans activist in Honduras is part of a series of violent attacks on the community. New-York based Human Rights Watch called on the authorities in the central American nation to fully investigate the murder of Cynthia Nicole. HRW said her murder on January 9th was the latest attack on the trans community.
On October 30th, an attacker killed Yasmin, a transgender sex worker and colleague of Nicole. The next day an attacker shot Bibi, another transgender sex worker, while she was working in the Obelisco, a park in the centre of Comayaguela. On December 17th, an attacker stabbed Noelia, a third transgender sex worker, 14 times. In addition to these attacks, on December 20th, members of the police assaulted a transgender activist doing HIV/AIDS outreach work in Tegucigalpa.
Transgender activists claim that in other cases police and judiciary have not taken effective steps to find those responsible. Unknown assailants murdered Nicole, 32, in the early hours of January 9th. According to testimonies by other rights activists, three unknown men in a blue car shot Nicole in a drive-by shooting in Barrio Guaserique in Comayaguela, a town just outside the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. The transgender rights activist received three shots in the chest and one in the head.
"Cynthia Nicole fought tirelessly to secure basic rights protections for transgender sex workers," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher with the LGBT Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities need to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this and previous attacks against the trans community. If authorities fail to investigate attacks, victims have no reason to report them – and are ready targets for reprisals."
As a leader in Colectivo Violeta – an organisation working to defend the rights and health of trans people – Ms Nicole had a long record of outreach work on rights with transgender sex workers in Tegucigalpa. She provided information about HIV/AIDS and human rights, and represented her community at various national conferences and before the media.
"The transgender community is terrified," said Indyra Mendoza, director of the Honduran lesbian and feminist group Cattrachas. "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 recognised and protected."
In March 2008 the US State Department said of Honduras: "There are no discriminatory laws based on sexual orientation, but in practice social discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation was widespread. Representatives of sexual diversity rights NGOs asserted that their members were killed, beaten, and subjected to other mistreatment by security authorities. In cases where lesbians, gays, and transgender persons were found dead, the prosecutor often encountered serious difficulties because the victims had either concealed their identity or sexual orientation or, in many cases, were hiding from their families.
"Criminal investigations were categorised by female or male gender but did not recognize a "transgender person" category. Sexual diversity rights groups asserted that security forces, government agencies, and private employers engaged in anti-gay discriminatory hiring practices. These groups also reported intimidation, fear of reprisal, and police corruption made gay and lesbian victims of abuse reluctant to file charges or proceed with prosecutions. The government required, as a condition for legal registration, sexual diversity rights organizations to remove any reference in their bylaws to promotion of respect for the rights of gay, lesbian, or transgender persons.
"In March the secretary general of the Ministry of Governance and Justice commented publicly that the government denied registration to gay rights advocacy NGOs because their stated purposes did not comport with "good custom." The sexual diversity rights organisation the Lesbian-Gay Rainbow Association of Comayaguela reported that between January and March, seven homosexuals were killed due to their sexuality by unknown actors and that a number of gay persons had fled the country out of fear of social and security force persecution. On March 18, police beat and detained Donny Reyes, the treasurer of the Lesbian-Gay Rainbow Association of Comayaguela. Police then reportedly put Reyes in a jail cell with 57 gang members who raped and beat him. Reyes filed a formal complaint and was subsequently harassed by police."
May 29, 2009 – hrw.org
Honduras: End Violence Against Transgender People – Government Should Prosecute Attackers and Prohibit Discrimination
San Pedro Sula – Honduras should act to end an epidemic of violence against transgender people by investigating, prosecuting, and convicting those responsible, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The organization also called on Honduran authorities to repeal legal provisions on "public morality" and "public scandal" that give police excessive power and enable abuse.
The 45-page report, "‘Not Worth a Penny’: Human Rights Abuses against Transgender People in Honduras," details abuses based on gender identity and expression, including rape, beatings, extortion, and arbitrary detentions by law enforcement officials. It also documents police inaction and recurrent failure to investigate violence against transgender people. At least 17 travestis (as many transgender people are called) have been killed in public places in Honduras since 2004. None of these killings have led to a prosecution or conviction.
"The police have an obligation to protect people and to investigate violence, no matter who the victims are," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "The Honduran State is failing miserably on this basic issue of human rights."
Violence against transgender people is a constant in Honduras, and the attacks rarely lead to an investigation or prosecution. On January 9, 2009, unknown assailants shot and killed Cynthia Nicole, a leading transgender rights activist. No one has been apprehended or charged with her murder. Most recently, on May 7, two unknown men beat Bárbara Paola, an outreach worker for a Tegucigalpa-based LGBT organization, Arcoiris. Local LGBT rights groups told Human Rights Watch that the case is not under investigation, and that no one has been prosecuted or imprisoned.
Based on interviews with victims of and witnesses to violence, the report also cites cases of violence on the part of police in Honduran cities in recent years. Several transgender people told Human Rights Watch that police officers rape them and extort money from them regularly. A 19-year-old transgender person told Human Rights Watch that police punched her in the face, beat her with a baton, and broke a broomstick against her back before throwing her into jail. The report documents other cases in which police have stood by and watched when transgender people are attacked, and shows how police fail to pursue investigations in other instances.
Often police justify their actions with reference to vague language in the Law on Police and Social Affairs – such as a need to protect "public morality" and guard against "public scandal." For example, an outreach worker told Human Rights Watch that police officers accused her of stealing, hit her head against a glass door of a building, and accused her of "public scandal."
Some actions to protect public morality are permitted under international human rights law, mainly if they are clearly set out in domestic law, are shown to be necessary, and are applied proportionately. This is clearly not the case in the provisions of the Law on Police and Social Affairs in Honduras, however. Vague provisions in the law enable police violence and abuses against other marginalized communities as well as transgender people.
Comparable laws are found in Guatemala, some states in Mexico, and some provinces in Argentina. Yet in other Latin American countries, like Colombia, judges have quashed similar laws on the grounds that such concepts are too broad and invite discriminatory treatment. Human Rights Watch acknowledged that Honduras has taken positive steps by making a public commitment to end violence on the grounds of people’s sexual orientation or gender identity, in particular by supporting the Organization of American States (OAS) "Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity" in June 2008.
However, Human Rights Watch called on Honduras to translate these international statements into local action. Honduras should repeal the sweeping provisions in the Law on Police and Social Affairs and pass specific anti-discrimination legislation that bars discrimination on all grounds, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The report release coincides with the annual meeting of heads of state of the Organization of American States (OAS), of which Honduras is the host. The theme for this year’s meeting is "Toward a Culture of Non-Violence."
"As host to the 39th General Assembly, Honduras should send the message that non-violence is a human right for all," said Cano Nieto. "The Honduran government should start by repealing domestic legislation that enables violence."
July 17, 2009 – IGLHRC
Honduras: IGLHRC Expresses Outrage at Human Rights Abuses After Military Coup
(New York) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) strongly condemns the recent murder and arbitrary arrests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Honduras. IGLHRC has learned that these human rights abuses have occurred as a direct result of the military coup on June 28, 2009, which ousted that country’s democratically elected government. The coup was apparently precipitated by now-exiled President Manuel Zelaya’s attempts to amend the constitution and seek an additional 4-year term in office after his original term expired in 2010.
"The recent coup in Honduras is an illegal assault on democracy that violates the rights of all Honduran citizens, including those who identify as LGBT," said IGLHRC executive director Cary Alan Johnson. "We especially deplore the vicious murder and arbitrary arrests of LGBT people in the wake of this crisis."
The transgender activist’s murder occurred on the night of June 29, 2009, after she went to work during the military-imposed two-night curfew. She was found dead in the morning of June 30, 2009, one block away from San Pedro Sula’s Gay Community Center, with two gunshot wounds: one through her head and one in her back. Local activists in Honduras claim she was killed by military police patrolling the streets. Representatives from Colectivo TTT/REDLACTRANS have protested the murder.
Five other LGBT activists-Hector Licona, Donny Reyes, Patrick Pavon, Claudia Cervantes and Lizeth Ávila-were arrested, detained and then beaten while in custody on June 29. The arrests occurred while the activists were participating in a demonstration in support of the democratically elected government. All of the activists are well-known public figures, known to be leaders in the LGBT movement.
Honduras has a checkered history on LGBT rights. IGLHRC contributed to a 2006 report about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Honduras. The report emphasized that the Honduran government engages in widespread discrimination against the LGBT community. It documented over 200 murders of transgender people and sex workers by state and non-state actors, as well as numerous incidents of police brutality. In 2007, IGLHRC issued an action alert after four transgender people were arbitrarily arrested and physically, verbally and psychologically abused in police custody.
"Human rights and fundamental freedoms are being challenged in Honduras in the aftermath of the coup," said Marcelo Ferreyra, coordinator of IGLHRC’s Latin America and Caribbean Program. "Under such circumstances, there is always danger for those whose sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to social norms. We ask for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Honduras."
For more information about IGLHRC and its work on Honduras, click here.
July 23, 2009 – Change.Org
The Coup in Honduras and a Rise in LGBT Violence
by Michael A. Jones
Last month, a military coup in Honduras ousted the country’s President, Manuel Zelaya, and threw the country into a spiral of chaos complete with violence, curfews and a worried return to the type of Latin American politics that’s a little less Democracy and a little more free-for-all. But is another side effect of the coup an increase in violence toward LGBT people.
Maybe. That’s according to this post over at Pride Source, which features some information from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) asserting that a transgender activist was shot dead the day after the coup, and at least five other LGBT activists were detained in the days following the overthrow of Zelaya’s presidency. Local activists, apparently, are saying that military police are the ones who assassinated the transgender activist. Here’s what the IGLHRC’s Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson had to say about the worsening situation in Honduras:
The recent coup in Honduras is an illegal assault on democracy that violates the rights of all Honduran citizens, including those who identify as LGBT. We especially deplore the vicious murder and arbitrary arrests of LGBT people in the wake of this crisis. A rise in LGBT violence: one more reason to condemn the illegal coup in Honduras, and the first overthrow of a Latin American government in more than two decades.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Honduras was never a beacon of tolerance for LGBT people. Before the coup, international officials documented widespread violence toward the LGBT population in Honduras, particularly violence against transgender folks. In 2006, a report was released that documented over 200 murders of transgender people and sex workers by state and non-state actors, as well as numerous incidents of police brutality. Looks like for LGBT folks in the country, the more things change politically, the more they’re staying the same.
December 14, 2009 – Radio Mundo Real
Unacceptable – Honduran dictatorship kills young activist
25 year-old activist Walter Trochez was murdered Monday in Tegucigalpa. He was a gay rights advocate and a member of the National Front of Resistance against the Coup in Honduras. Trochez, who had publicly reported the abuses of Roberto Micheletti’s de facto regime was shot in Tegucigalpa’s downtown. A few days before his death, he had been brutally beaten by officers of the dictatorship while they were interrogating him to extract information about the leaders of the peaceful resistance.
The activist had recently published an article exposing the de facto regime for its human rights violations. The article, titled “Increase in hate crimes and homophobia towards LGTB as a result of the civic-religious-military coup in Honduras”, was about how what is currently going on in Honduras is a step backwards for the most inclusive processes that have been taking place in Latin America in the recent years.
“It is worth stating that the explicit support of the church in Honduras to the military coup of June 28, 2009 prevented holding a referendum organized by the legitimate constitutional government, while it put dictator Roberto Micheletti in power”, reads the article. It also explains that homophobic hate crimes have increased since the coup, promoted by the Honduran church, with the complicity of the oppressing groups.
“Once again we say it is Not Acceptable that in these past 4 months, during such a short period, 9 transexual and gay friends were violently killed, 6 in San Pedro Sula and 3 in Tegucigalpa”, said the activist in his article, following several press releases of the gay, lesbian, transexual and bisexual community.
The young activist finished his article saying “As a revolutionary, I will always defend my people, even if it takes my life”.
December 17, 2009 – IGLHRC
Young Honduran LGBT Activist Murdered in Wave of Violence and Impunity
Contact: Marcelo Ferreyra, (54) 11-4665-7527 (Spanish, English)
(December 17, 2009) On December 13, Walter Tróchez, a 27 year-old gay rights activist and member of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup d’Etat, was shot in a drive-by attack by unknown assailants. He died several hours later in a hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. According to Honduran NGOs Red Lesbica Cattrachas and Feministas en Resistencia, his is the sixteenth known murder in the Honduran lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community since the military coup on June 28, 2009. Since the ouster of the country’s democratically elected government, a climate of impunity has enabled systematic acts of transphobic and homophobic violence. Nobody has been brought to justice for any of these crimes, many of which were committed publicly. More deaths of LGBT people have likely gone unreported.
The human rights of people in all sectors of Honduran society are being systematically violated as the direct result of the military coup. However, the accelerated rate at which LGBT people have been killed in the last five months suggests a targeted pattern of violence.
Those killed since the coup include:
Vicky Hernández Castillo, transgender, June 29, 2009
Valeria, (Darwin Joya), transgender, June 30, 2009
Martina Jackson (Martín Jackson), transgender, June 30, 2009
Fabio Adalberto Aguilera Zamora, gay, July 4, 2009
Héctor Emilio Maradiaga Snaider, gay, August 9, 2009
Michelle Torres, (Milton Torres), transgender, August 30, 2009
Enrique Andrés García Nolasco, gay, September 2, 2009
Jorge Samuel Miranda Mata (Salome), transgender, September 20, 2009
Carlos Reynieri Salmerón (Sadya), transgender, September 20, 2009
Marión Lanza, transgender, October 9, 2009
Montserrat Maradiaga (Elder Noe Maradiaga), transgender, October 10, 2009
Juan Carlos Zelaya, transgender, October 26, 2009
Rigoberto Wilson Carrasco, transgender, November 2, 2009
José Luís Salandía, gay, November 2, 2009
Anonymous man, gay, November 4, 2009
Walter Tróchez, gay, December 13, 2009
The work of Walter Tróchez, the most recent victim of this violence, included dissemination of information about human rights in Honduras. As an LGBT activist, Tróchez also reported on the human rights of LGBT people during the coup, and advocated for HIV/AIDS prevention and combating religious fundamentalism.
Like others in Honduras, Tróchez faced significant abuse for his political and human rights activism and his sexual orientation, which escalated after the coup. On July 20, 2009, he was detained by authorities for participating in a peaceful, sit-down protest across from the Congress of the Republic. During his detention, he was brutally beaten and denigrated because of his sexual orientation. Then, on December 4, Tróchez was kidnapped and beaten by four masked men who came in a gray pickup truck without license plates, suspected by activists to come from the police investigative unit (DNIC). He managed to escape and file a complaint to national and international authorities just days before he was murdered.
Three days before the murder, on December 10, 2009-Human Rights Day-Honduran LGBT human rights defender Indyra Mendoza spoke to State and civil society representatives at the United Nations in New York. Mendoza warned that the situation of LGBT people in Honduras is dire, calling for "states free of discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity [and] free from impunity" and challenging religious organizations’ roles in supporting the coup.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) stands in solidarity and sorrow with the family and friends of Walter Tróchez, as well as those of everyone killed in these bloody months. The international community must support the courageous activists continuing to defend human rights and LGBT people in Honduras.
All people have the rights to life, security, and freedom from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or political beliefs. IGLHRC condemns the systemic persecution and murder of LGBT people and human rights defenders in Honduras and calls for an end to the impunity that allows this violence and oppression to thrive.
January 27, 2010 – The New York Times
Honduran Zelaya Flies Into Exile, Ending Crisis
Tegucigalpa (Reuters) – Toppled Honduran president Manuel Zelaya emerged from months holed up in a Brazilian embassy compound and flew into exile on Wednesday, ending a months-long political crisis as Honduras swore in a new president. Zelaya, deposed in a coup last June, boarded a plane for the Dominican Republic shortly after President Porfirio Lobo, an opposition leader elected in November, took office. Thousands of Zelaya’s supporters cheered and shouted at the airport as his plane took off. Zelaya’s exit marks the closure of seven months of political chaos in the impoverished nation of 7 million people set off by his ouster by troops in June. He was flown out of the country but returned in September and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy.
"They’re never going to let him come back," supporter Carla Lopez said, holding her two-year-old daughter and choking back tears as she watched Zelaya leave from behind an airport fence. Others said they believed Zelaya would return one day.
U.S. and Latin American governments slammed the coup and many countries denounced Lobo’s election on November 29 under a de facto government as illegitimate, but months of mediation and talks failed to reverse the coup and restore Zelaya. Zelaya, his wife and daughter flew to the Dominican Republic on the plane of Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, who invited Zelaya to live in his country and attended Lobo’s swearing. Lobo received the presidential sash in a ceremony in the national stadium attended by foreign leaders, the military and supporters, and vowed to move beyond the chaos of recent months.
"Today we want to heal the wounds of the past," the new president said. He later accompanied Zelaya to the airport. The U.S. state department said Lobo’s swearing-in would help heal relations with Honduras, but that the United States had not determined when it might restore aid programs for the Central American country. The Honduran Congress granted Zelaya political amnesty on Tuesday but the move does not affect criminal charges hanging over him and did not alter his plan to leave.
Several thousand supporters massed at the airport saw him off with red flags now associated with Zelaya’s camp and cowboy hats with red bandannas emblazoned with his nickname "Mel." Some 200 police guarded the runway. "We are sad he is leaving, but he will be back soon," 38-year-old lab technician Florita Milla said.
Read Article HERE
January 27, 2010 – MSMGF
Extreme levels of violence against gay community
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) calls on the new administration taking office in Honduras today to acknowledge the extreme levels of violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and take immediate steps to bring perpetrators to justice. Not only do the rising numbers of brutal attacks constitute serious human rights violations, they hold potential to add fuel to an already raging HIV epidemic among sexual minorities.
On December 13th, 27 year-old activist Walter Tróchez became the most recent casualty in a wave of violence against sexual minorities that has been escalating since June, 2009. In the past six months, activists report the slaying of at least 16 LGBT individuals. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has reported a list of these cases (i). Violence against the LGBT community in Honduras has been a clear and consistent problem for years. The Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH) has recorded 171 acts of anti-LGBT violence since 2004. Activists believe that three LGBT murders go unreported for every one that is documented.
The UNAIDS 2009 AIDS Epidemic Update reports that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Honduras has already reached 12.4%. Recent studies have shown that groups of MSM who experienced verbal, physical or other forms of violence were significantly more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. In addition, the threat of hate crimes can hinder the provision of and access to HIV prevention and treatment services. Neglecting to address violence against MSM and other sexual minorities equates a serious threat to public health.
Police inaction and government silence have fostered an environment where violence against LGBT people carries no consequence. No arrests have been made for any of the cases cited by IGLHRC, many of which were reported to have been committed in public. Of the 171 cases identified by CIPRODEH, arrests have been made in only three.
Allowing homophobic abuse and violence to continue unchecked runs counter to the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The United Nations Human Rights Committee has repeatedly affirmed the right of people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities to enjoy life, security of person, and equal protection under the law.
In a country with a history of hostility toward LGBT people, the weakening rule of law since June has clearly played a role in the recent surge of attacks. The new administration brings an opportunity to establish real accountability for crimes against LGBT citizens. These cases of violence and murder should be investigated and prosecuted, bringing justice to the victims and their families and discouraging those who would commit similar heinous crimes in the future. The MSMGF stands with IGLHRC, Human Rights Watch, and other members of the international and local communities in condemning these acts of violence and calls for immediate action from the new administration to end this injustice.
The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM. Guided by a Steering Committee of 20 members from 17 countries situated mainly in the Global South, and with administrative and fiscal support from AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), the MSMGF works to promote MSM health and human rights worldwide through advocacy, information exchange, knowledge production, networking, and capacity building.
1. Vicky Hernández Castillo, transgender, June 29, 2009
2. Valeria, (Darwin Joya), transgender, June 30, 2009
3. Martina Jackson (Martín Jackson), transgender, June 30, 2009
4. Fabio Adalberto Aguilera Zamora, gay, July 4, 2009
5. Héctor Emilio Maradiaga Snaider, gay, August 9, 2009
6. Michelle Torres, (Milton Torres), transgender, August 30, 2009
7. Enrique Andrés García Nolasco, gay, September 2, 2009
8. Jorge Samuel Miranda Mata (Salome), transgender, September 20, 2009
9. Carlos Reynieri Salmerón (Sadya), transgender, September 20, 2009
10. Marión Lanza, transgender, October 9, 2009
11. Montserrat Maradiaga (Elder Noe Maradiaga), transgender, October 10, 2009
12. Juan Carlos Zelaya, transgender, October 26, 2009
13. Rigoberto Wilson Carrasco, transgender, November 2, 2009
14. José Luís Salandía, gay, November 2, 2009
15. Anonymous man, gay, November 4, 2009
16. Walter Tróchez, gay, December 13, 2009
April 15, 2010 – From: Indyra MendozaÂ
Feministas en Resistencia
Segundo encuentro por la refundaciÃ³n de Honduras
Desde las Cattrachas queremos hacer un anÃ¡lisis de lo aprendido durante el Segundo encuentro por la refundaciÃ³n de Honduras
En primer lugar que la estrategia del FNRP es correctaÂ formar, organizar y movilizar
Pero en este encuentro reafirmamos que es necesario un periodo de tiempo amplio y suficiente para educarnos y formarnos desde todas las expresiones del movimiento popular a partir todas las visiones de derechos humanos que incluya un lenguaje no discriminatorio no sexista, racista, patriarcal y machista, para llegar a la constituyente. Creemos que esto llevarÃa por lo menos cuatro aÃ±os, lo que podrÃa hacer que las personas piensen en fundar un partido polÃtico antes de la constituyente.
En el ejercicio de la Asamblea de la Diversidad Sexual , vivimos este proceso, habÃamos 24 personas que representÃ¡bamos muchos sectores del movimiento social, al comenzar a discutir que es diversidad sexual, nuestro papel dentro de la resistencia, de los movimientos sociales y lo relacionado a DDHH recibimos respuestas como:
â€œPara que hablar de maricas y ddhh, si han matado a mas maestros y sindicalistas durante la dictadura y a los maricas siempre los han matadoâ€�
â€œSi hablamos de derechos humanos, hablemos de los derechos de los niÃ±os que ustedes han abortadoâ€� (nunca tocamos el tema del aborto)
â€œUstedes quieren que las mujeres queden estÃ©riles con todas esas pastillas que les danâ€� (tampoco tocamos este tema)
Y el mas impresionante fue el ejemplo que un polÃtico dio en relaciÃ³n a mi orientaciÃ³n sexual: â€œSi usted esta con un hombre guapo y machista, tomÃ¡ndose un trago en un barÂ y el le dice que Â¿quiere hacerlo con usted? Que le contestarÃa, le dirÃa que no me gustan los hombres, Â¿pero si el esta tomado? Y la agarraâ€¦ yo le dije, Â¡eso compaÃ±ero se llama violaciÃ³n!
Entonces la asamblea se convirtiÃ³ en una dinÃ¡mica de formaciÃ³n en lo relativo a diversidad sexual e identidad de gÃ©nero y el respeto a nuestros derechos humanos.
DespuÃ©s de esto, todas y todos los presentes aceptaron que tenemos los mismos derechos y se redacto el texto constitucional, al pasar a la elecciÃ³n de la y el representante, asÃ como el vocero estaban totalmente comprometidos en la defensa del texto constitucional.
Saturnino salio electo para la directiva de la asamblea nacional constituyente y â€œFidelâ€� hizo una presentaciÃ³n fabulosa del texto, Donni saco muchos votos desde su posiciÃ³n polÃtica de diversidad sexual y en la asamblea general, las y los delegados se pronunciaron y votaron a favor de la inclusiÃ³n de los derechos humanos para la diversidad sexual.
Este ejercicio nos permitiÃ³ formar, organizar y movilizar, por lo que agradecemos al COPINH por habernos incluido y darnos la oportunidad de saber que el papel de la formaciÃ³n es de gran importancia para el proceso de ciudadanÃa de la comunidad LGTTBI.
Y que el reto es Â¡GRANDE!
Feministas en Resistencia
Comunicado: Fallo Tribunal de Sentencia Expediente 1617-2010
A favor de Mujer Trans
Un logro de los intensos esfuerzos por parte de la Comunidad de la Diversidad Sexual es el de haber dado a tientas un pequeño paso en esta deficiente mampara democrática del aparato estatal, y haberle demostrado al régimen que en solidaridad y con muy buena plataforma de apoyo y experticia se le puede arrebatar la impunidad al hetero-patriarcado indeleblemente normativo. La sentencia obtenida para el “detractor de vidas”, policía, Amado Rodríguez Borjas, fue por homicidio en grado de ejecución que le adjudica la privacidad de su libertad de 10 a 13 años, enjuiciado y sentenciado en la misma zona donde cometió su crimen de odio.
Es hora de socializarle al mundo entero que la lucha mano a mano de nuestra comunidad de diversidades sexuales radica en invalidarle al sistema oligarca, fascista su impunidad detractora de vidas por la expresión e identidad de género como lo fue el caso de nuestra compañera trans denominada testiga protegida “E”, que no solo interpuso la denuncia sino que se atrevió a arrancarle su dignidad y vida misma a la impunidad, no es con dinero que se compra la libertad de los pueblos, ni el valor de una vida.
En Honduras existen múltiples violaciones a los DDHH hacia las personas de la comunidad LGTTBI, estas sin menoscabo de otras investigaciones se encuentran denunciadas en las investigaciones de Human Right Watch “No vales ni un centavo”, que manifiesta el asesinato de diecisiete mujeres trans de 2004 a enero de 2009. “Investigación sobre crímenes de odio contra las personas LGTB en Honduras” Arcoiris y CIPRODEH de 2005 a 2009 que denuncia 168 casos de violaciones a los DDHH. “Orientación Sexual e identidad de genero en época de crisis política”, “Muertes de la comunidad LGTTBI en el Contexto del Golpe de Estado” Red Lésbica Cattrachas que ha registrado y denunciado 30 asesinatos de personas de la comunidad LGTTBI de junio 28 de 2009 a agosto de 2010.
Las organizaciones de la comunidad LGTTBI le exigimos justicia y respeto a los Derechos Humanos directamente al aparato estatal y gubernamental, pues es en estos puntos donde se avala la impunidad, y es en esta misma impunidad donde se esconde la corrupción.
Agradecemos a los entes investigativos, a la Fiscalia de Derechos Humanos, a las organizaciones internacionales defensoras de Derechos Humanos (HRW, CEJIL, Amnistía Internacional), Embajada de Holanda, Consulado de España, al Fondo de Acción Urgente y especialmente a las y los miembros de la Comunidad Lésbica , Gay, Bisexual, Transgénera, Travesti e Intersex de este planeta diverso.
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., a los 09 días del mes de septiembre de 2010.
Rough translation from Google:
From: Red Lesbian Cattrachas
Press release: Trial Failure on Behalf of Transsexual Males (Court Record 1617-2010)
One achievement of the intensive efforts by the Community of Sexual Diversity is to be given to grasp a small step in this facade of democratic state apparatus, and having demonstrated the regime in solidarity and with very good platform for support and expertise you can snatch impunity indelibly hetero-normative patriarchy. The ruling obtained against the "detractor of life," policeman Amado Rodriguez Borjas, was for manslaughter implementing privacy awarded the freedom of 10 to 13 years, tried and sentenced in the same area where he committed his crime hatred.
It’s time to notify the entire world that the hand to hand fight of our community of sexual diversity to override the system’s lies, oligarch impunity fascist opponents of lives for the expression and gender identity as was the case of our colleague trans witness called protected "E", which not only brought the complaint but who dared to challenge their dignity and life itself to impunity, no money is to buy the freedom of peoples, the value of a life.
In Honduras there are many human rights violations against people LGTTBI community, without compromising these other investigations are reported in research by Human Rights Watch "not worth a penny", which shows the murder of seventeen women trans, 2004 to January 2009. "Research on hate crimes against LGBT people in Honduras and CIPRODEH Rainbow from 2005 to 2009 that report 168 cases of human rights violations. "Sexual orientation and gender identity in times of political crisis," "Death LGTTBI community in the context of the coup" Red Lesbian Cattrachas has recorded and reported 30 murders of people in the community LGTTBI of June 28, 2009 to August 2010.
The LGTTBI community organizations will demand justice and respect for human rights directly to state and governmental apparatus, it is at these points which guarantees impunity, and it is this same impunity that hide corruption. We thank the research agencies, the Office of Human Rights, international organizations defending Human Rights (HRW, CEJIL, AI), Royal Netherlands Embassy, Consulate of Spain, Urgent Action Fund and especially to members Community Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Travesti this diverse planet.
Tegucigalpa, MDC, to the 09 th day of September 2010.
December 20, 2010 – Human Rights Watch
Honduras: Prosecute Post-Coup Abuses
Attacks and Threats Remain a Very Serious Concern
Honduran authorities should take concrete steps to end impunity for abuses committed after the country’s 2009 coup, and to curb ongoing attacks against journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 65-page report, "After the Coup: Ongoing Violence, Intimidation, and Impunity in Honduras," documents the state’s failure to ensure accountability for abuses committed under the country’s de facto government in 2009. The report also documents 47 cases of threats or attacks – including 18 killings – against journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists since the inauguration of President Porfirio Lobo in January 2010.
"We undertook this independent assessment because a year and a half after the coup in Honduras, the consequences for human rights are still being felt," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "It is clear from our findings that until Honduran authorities take concrete steps to reduce impunity and stop the attacks, it will be very difficult to restore trust in the country’s democratic system."
The lack of accountability – and ongoing violence and threats – have had a chilling effect on free speech and political participation in Honduras, particularly among those who opposed the 2009 coup, Human Rights Watch said. The 2009 coup was condemned by the international community. The OAS suspended Honduras’s membership, and many Latin American governments withdrew their ambassadors from the country. The United States also objected to the coup; though, unfortunately, it waited more than two months before imposing effective sanctions on the de facto government.
After the coup, security forces committed serious human rights violations – including excessive force against demonstrators and arbitrary detentions – as well as illegitimate restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. No one has been held criminally responsible for any of these violations. The Human Rights Unit of the Attorney General’s Office has filed charges in 20 cases of alleged violations committed under the de facto government. Judges acquitted the defendants in eight cases and the rest remain pending before the courts, including some cases that are stalled because the accused remain at large.
This lack of progress is primarily the result of the lack of cooperation with, and support for, the Human Rights Unit on the part of other state institutions, particularly during the early stage of the investigations in 2009, Human Rights Watch said. Security forces obstructed investigations of abuses committed after the coup, Human Rights Watch found. They failed to turn over firearms for ballistics tests, to respond to information requests to identify officers accused of committing abuses, and to grant access to military installations. While security forces have been somewhat more cooperative since President Lobo took office, the earlier lack of cooperation has had a lasting impact on the investigations.
Other obstacles include the Human Rights Unit’s limited resources and its reliance on investigative police who lack the independence necessary to conduct impartial investigations into violations by security forces. Progress on these cases has been hindered by the government’s failure to allocate funds to the Witness Protection Program. In addition, the Supreme Court created a climate in which lower-court judges were discouraged from ruling against de facto authorities, Human Rights Watch said. The court endorsed the military’s actions on the day of the coup, and subsequently disregarded constitutional appeals challenging policies of the de facto government. It also exercised its disciplinary powers in an arbitrary and seemingly political fashion in May, when it fired four judges who had publicly questioned the coup’s legality.
Attacks on Journalists, Human Rights Defenders, Political Activists
Since President Lobo’s inauguration, at least 18 journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists have been killed, several in circumstances that suggest the crimes may have been politically motivated. For example, on February 15, gunmen shot and killed Julio Benitez, an opponent of the coup who had received numerous threatening phone calls warning him to abandon his participation in opposition groups.
January 2011 – MSH
Q&A with Dr. Jorge Fernandez: Human Rights and HIV Services for Most-at-Risk Groups in Honduras
Describe the profile of the HIV & AIDS epidemic in Honduras.
The HIV epidemic in Honduras is considered a concentrated epidemic with a prevalence rate of 0.68%, representing about 56,000 people living with HIV and 28,000 people estimated to be living with AIDS between the period of 1985-2010. For the most-at-risk populations, prevalence rates range from about 5% for both commercial sex workers and Garifuna individuals and to about 10% for men who have sex with men.
What are some of the challenges in working with the most-at-risk population?
This population carries the highest burden of the HIV epidemic. In addition to having the highest HIV prevalence rates, they are the groups that are most discriminated against and marginalized. They have the hardest time accessing HIV prevention and care services, and they live, for the most part, in situations of extreme poverty. Unfortunately, the HIV prevalence rate among these groups is decreasing more slowly than the rate among other populations.
Can you explain more about the problems of stigmatization and discrimination?
Men who have sex with men and commercial sex workers are two groups that are living in a Honduran society that is very conservative. Society wants to make these groups invisible. They are ridiculed for their sexual conduct and behavior. In general, health service providers and those that offer education and other services are not well disposed to providing care and support to these specific populations. Unfortunately, overall, our society does not want to recognize their human rights as individuals.
Last year, AIDSTAR-Two Honduras launched a small-scale social mobilization program in collaboration with MSM, transvestites and transgender leaders, with the goal of building consensus regarding the barriers to accessing HIV & AIDS prevention services, engaging other sectors, and implementing activities to address the social and structural barriers to HIV & AIDS programs. Where are you now in this process?
This initiative was very welcomed by the organizations that work with MSM, which are primarily formed by men who have sex with men themselves. We were able to work with 11 organizations to form what we call the core group, in charge of leading the planning and implementation of the social mobilization efforts. We did an internal analysis of the social environment from the perception and experience of MSM, on transgender and transvestites in four geographic areas (San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Comayagua and Tegucigalpa) complemented by an analysis done by the core group.
The analysis concluded that the machismo issue, the use of drugs and alcohol, having multiple sex partners, and the low or inconsistent use of prevention methods, within the center of MSM communities were the main factors contributing to the HIV epidemic.
We moved forward into developing a strategic plan that included the promotion of human rights, advocacy at very high levels with stakeholders of the public institutions, such as the fiscal unit of the government, the human rights commissioner at the National University, the secretaries of health and education, the National Autonomous University of Honduras and others. We are currently reviewing the strategic plan to ensure that activities not included in the first draft will be included, such as communication, education and outreach to the general population; increasing most-at-risk populations’ access to services such as education, housing and comprehensive health care; and organizational strengthening for both local NGOs and the public sector.
Some of the NGOs we support are advocating for these most-at-risk groups’ rights. It is going well. There is cooperation from various ministries and the police to end stigma and discrimination.
What is the connection between human rights and the work of the AIDSTAR-Two project?
The direct link is that these populations live in situations where they have limited enjoyment of their rights and freedoms. In addition to the factors I already mentioned, violence is the most critical one, affecting primarily MSM and commercial sex workers in their own communities and their families.
Very limited information has been included around all aspects of sexual health in the education curricula used with the general population. At the individual level, among MARPs we see psychosocial and psychosexual conflicts that lead to very low self-esteem, drug abuse, and increased exposure to other sexually transmitted infections, in general, because all of these factors are connected to the environmental context of poverty.
This work is hard and takes a long time to see changes. What are your hopes, in terms of impact, for changes for MARPs over the next few years?
My vision is that the Honduras society gets to see these individuals as humans and that they are allowed to enjoy their civil rights and freedom. Working together, with partners from the public and private sector, we can improve access to health care and other services that meet their needs and help improve their quality of life.
Dr. Jorge Fernandez has been working on HIV issues since the first case of the infection was detected in Honduras in 1985. He worked for the Secretary of Health to design and establish the National AIDS Program and served as its director for two years, leading the development and implementation of prevention, care and treatment programs. He is a member of CONASIDA, the Honduras National Commission Against AIDS. He is a medical doctor with a specialty in public health.
January 12, 2011 – IGLHRC
Protest the Killings of LGBTI People in Honduras
Over the past two weeks, three travestis have been murdered in separate incidents in Honduras. In two of the incidents, the victims were set on fire either before or after their deaths. This means that in the past year and a half, there has been a total of now 31 the murders of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Honduras. Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Honduran LGBTI organization Red Cattrachas in calling for immediate investigations and demanding state action to prevent future killings on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On December 22, 2010 in Comayagüela, a 23-year-old travesti named Lorenza (legal name: Luis) Alexis Alvarado Hernández was found dead, her body visibly beaten and burned. Bloody stones near her corpse indicate that the bruises covering her body were caused by stoning. Her body was set on fire. Used condoms found nearby have led to the suspicion that she may also have been raped. After her death, the assailants threw her body into a ditch. News reports indicate that severe injuries to her face rendered her corpse virtually unrecognizable.
The same day, another travesti, Lady Oscar (legal name: Oscar) Martinez Salgado, age 45, was found burned to death in her home in Barrio El Rincón of Tegucigalpa. Her body showed multiple stab wounds. Neighbors report witnessing two suspicious individuals running from her house as the fire ignited. Less than two weeks later, on January 2, 2011, a young travesti known only as Cheo was found murdered on the main street of Colonia Alameda in Tegucigalpa. Her body was left without legal documentation. She appears to have died from a severe stab wound to her chest.
These killings are not isolated incidents. Since the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, there have been 31 murders of LGBTI people documented by Red Cattrachas. More deaths of LGBT people have likely gone unreported. At least one of those killed, Walter Trochez, was a prominent human rights defender. In the majority of the cases, there have been no investigation or prosecution of the crimes. Since the coup, all Hondurans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have been subjected to increased violence and have received little protection from authorities; however, LGBT people been particularly vulnerable to attack. Impunity nationwide has created this deadly spike in violence.
In response to pressure from local human rights activists, the Honduran Minister of Human Rights and the Tegucigalpa Chief of Homicide have assigned two investigators to these murders. However, no one has yet been charged in the recent deaths, and there is little evidence that the investigations are underway. Urge the Honduran authorities to conduct immediate investigations into each of the recent murders of travestis, to hold perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law, and to prevent similar attacks in the future. Let officials know that the world mourns these tragic deaths and demands that LGBTI killings stop.