Honduras: 215 LGBT people murdered in 7 years

A new report from Index on Censorship exposes the torture, imprisonment and assassination of LGBT people and activists in Honduras.

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The research, published by SAGE, carried out by journalist Duncan Tucker utilising data collected by on-the-ground NGOs, reveals some shocking statistics:

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* 215 LGBT people were murdered in Honduras 2009-2015

* 37 of these killings occurred in 2015 alone

Most assassins have never been prosecuted.

“I’ve been imprisoned on many occasions. I’ve suffered torture and sexual violence because of my activism, and I’ve survived many assassination attempts,” Honduran LGBT rights activist Donny Reyes said in an interview with Index on Censorship.

Reyes describes the state, the church and the mainstream media as a triumvirate that has fuelled “impunity, fundamentalism, machismo and misogyny” across the country, with disastrous consequences for the LGBT community.”

Index notes: “Arcoíris (the country’s LGBT group) reported 15 security incidents against its members during the second half of 2015, including surveillance, harassment, arbitrary detentions, assaults, robberies, theft, threats, sexual assault and even murder. Other LGBT activists have experienced forced evictions, fraudulent charges, defamation, enforced disappearances and restrictions of (their) right to assembly.”

Anti-LGBT violence rocketed after the country’s 2009 coup, which ousted liberal President Manuel Zelaya, but homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes are largely overlooked, both within the country and internationally.

On average two LGBT people were murdered each year in Honduras from 1994 to 2008. After the 2009 coup, that rate rocketed to an average 31 murders per year.

Peter Tatchell, London-based LGBT campaigner, has called for the international community to press the Honduran government over the killings. He told Index on Censorship:

“This extensive, shocking mob violence against LGBT Hondurans is almost unreported in the rest of the world. The big international LGBT organisations tend to focus on better-known homophobic repression in countries like Egypt, Russia, Iran and Uganda. What’s happening in Honduras is many times worse. Is this neglect because it is a tiny country with few resources and no geo-political weight?

“The UN, Organisation of American States and foreign aid providers need to do more to press the Honduran government to crackdown on anti-LGBT hate crime and to educate the public on LGBT issues to combat prejudice. Honduran schools and media should be giving a lead, to counter the hate that leads to such gross violence.

“Similar anti-LGBT attacks – sometimes perpetrated by death squads – are happening in other parts of central and south America, including Brazil, Mexico, Peru and El Salvador. A disproportionately high number of the victims are trans people.”

Index on Censorship magazine’s deputy editor Vicky Baker explained why it is critical for more attention to be paid to what is happening in Honduras:

“You know you have a very serious situation on your hands when you are researching a topic and every time you find someone you want to speak to, you delve deeper and find they have been killed. At Index on Censorship, we work with a lot of endangered activists and reporters, but these threats are terrifying. Speaking out on an unpopular topic in Honduras is like a death sentence.”

Activists and journalists are in serious danger in Honduras. Index on Censorship’s report also includes an interview with Honduras’s most renowned investigative reporter, and former Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award nominee, Dina Meza, who has reported on the plight of the country’s beleaguered LGBT community and people.

The article is part of the spring issue of Index on Censorship magazine. The edition also carries a special report on Shakespeare, looking at how his plays have been used to challenge power and sneak past censors around the world, from Brazil and China to the USA and Zimbabwe.

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