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Honduran government targets Transgender community
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Honduran government targets Transgender community

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

As reported in last week's SGN (December 18), when Gay human rights activist Walter Trochez was murdered by suspected agents of the Honduran government, he was documenting the regime's attacks on the local LGBT community.

In an open letter he released on November 16, Trochez named nine "martyrs of the LGBTT community." Of them at least seven were Transgender or "Travesti," the Honduran word for cross-dressers who may or may not identify as Transgender.

In the two weeks since Trochez's murder on December 13, more killings have been brought to light, almost all of them involving Transgender or Travesti victims.

Honduran Gay activist Donny Reyes, an organizer for the Rainbow Association, told Amnesty International in November that conditions for the LGBT community have deteriorated sharply since the June 28 coup that deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.

"We had started talks with the Public Prosecutor's Office, with members of the police and some members of the government for the investigation [of crimes against the LGBT community] and access to some public services. This stopped after the coup d'etat," Reyes said.

Research conducted by Rainbow found that there were 12 killings of LGBT people in Honduras in the whole of 2008. In the four months since the coup, that figure reached 14.

"These are the violent deaths and crimes that we have documented. It doesn't include the many others we don't know of - the ones that are left in impunity, lost in limbo," Reyes said.

According to Reyes, the most dangerous period was the weeklong "state of emergency" immediately following Pres. Zelaya's arrest by the Honduran military on June 28.

"During the state of emergency, you could feel a climate of fear, collective panic. Nothing could move here if it hadn't been authorized by the armed forces, particularly the army," Reyes said. "When the state of emergency was declared that day, everybody just ran home to hide and find refuge. What the authorities would do that night was nobody's responsibility."

Reyes told Amnesty International that at least three LGBT persons were killed in the first 24 hours of the state of emergency, all of them shot in the head execution-style.

Red Lesbica Cattrachas, a group of feminist artists supporting a return to democratic government in Honduras, has documented 15 murder victims, at least 10 of them Transgender or Travesti. The list includes the nine named by Trochez, plus six others including an anonymous victim who was not named because he was not yet out.

Their report includes photos of many of the dead, descriptions of the circumstances of their murders, plus Honduran newspaper articles reporting on the events.

They conclude with the demand "We call for a full investigation and prosecution of the crimes and their perpetrators, police officers, [paramilitary] Cobra units, military officials during the coup regime between June 28, 2009 to the present."

Pres. Zelaya was arrested by the military and sent out of the country on June 28. He continues to insist that he is the legal president of Honduras, and the Micheletti regime which replaced him has not been recognized by any other government.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denounced the coup and called for the restoration of constitutional government.

Contacted by SGN for comment, US State department spokesperson Noel Clay reaffirmed that the US does not support the Micheletti government and that "since the coup, we remain concerned about human rights in Honduras."

"I'm not aware of the specific [Trochez] case," he continued, "but we urge all countries not to make sexual orientation the basis for discrimination, criminalization, or attacks of any kind."

Conservative businessman Porfirio Lobo Sosa was elected President of Honduras on November 27, and will take office in January 2010, but Zelaya and his supporters have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the election.

Asked if the US would insist that the new Lobo government bring those responsible for the murders to justice, Clay said, "That's something we'd be raising but I'm not sure exactly what we'll be saying. Let's wait and let the new people come into office and then we'll see."

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