Post submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, former Associate Director, HRC Global
The body of Rene Martinez, a 40-year-old LGBTQ rights activist, was found in the city of San Pedro Sula, The Washington Blade reported. Martinez, who was kidnapped last week, had apparently been strangled.
Martinez was the president of a LGBTQ advocacy organization in San Pedro Sula. A member of Honduras’ ruling National Party, Martinez took part in an LGBTQ political empowerment conference organized last year in the capital Tegucigalpa. That conference was also attended by Randy Berry, U.S. Special Envoy for the Rights of LGBTI Persons, and Tamara Adrian, the first openly transgender person to be elected to Venezuela’s National Assembly.
“Crimes like these against our fellow LGBTQ activists in other parts of the world remind us of the horrific hate and violence that are a lived daily reality for many in our community.” HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “ HRC Global is committed to working in solidarity with global activists to combat hate and violence.”
In a statement issued on Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras condemned the “apparent murder” of Martinez in “the strongest terms” and called for a “full and thorough investigation into the circumstances of the death.” The U.S. Government has offered to assist Honduran authorities to bring Martinez's killers to justice.
Violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people in Honduras is rampant, according to the Blade. A U.N. human rights report in June 2015 had expressed concern about the inflammatory and hateful rhetoric deployed against LGBTQ people in the country. The city of San Pedro Sula has been wracked by gang violence and drug trafficking related crimes for years and several prominent LGBTQ activists have been victims of violence in recent years.
HRC learned about the epidemic of violence in Honduras and the toll it is taking on the LGBTQ community from three Honduran activists who visited us last October. The violence against transgender Hondurans is especially severe and perpetrators act with impunity. According to Transgender Europe (TGEU), the country has the highest number of killings of transgender people relative to its population.