Hate Crimes in Honduras

 

Hate Crimes in Honduras

October 5, 2007

In Honduras today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face persistent harassment and discrimination. This issue is becoming increasingly urgent: two leaders of Arcoiris (“Rainbow”), an AJWS grantee since 2005, were attacked and detained in separate incidents on the streets of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, in March and April.

Arcoiris was founded in 2003 to promote the human rights and wellbeing of LGBT people in Honduras. Unfortunately, members of Arcoiris and similar groups are regularly subjected to psychological and physical violence, much of it abetted or even directly committed by the police.

Donny Reyes, General Coordinator of Arcoiris, was detained by a police patrol on March 18, 2007 while exiting a taxi in Tegucigalpa. Donny had not committed any infraction and demanded to know why he was being detained. The police responded by hitting and insulting him. He was taken to jail, where the police ordered his cellmates to physically and emotionally abuse him, allegedly saying: “Look, I’m bringing you a little princess, you know what to do.” Donny was repeatedly raped and beaten by his cellmates. He is now out of jail and has lodged a formal complaint, but no action is being taken by the state.

Josef Fabio Estrada, Coordinator of Arcoiris’s Transvestite Group and a transvestite activist and sex worker, was attacked by five men on April 20, 2007. Police watched the attack without intervening until Estrada tried to defend himself, at which point he was arrested and charged with attempted homicide. He is currently being held in the state penitentiary’s “cell of death,” a space usually reserved for convicted criminals, and has received no medical attention for his various injuries.

AJWS acted swiftly to support Arcoiris by making an emergency grant within two days of the report of the attacks, which enabled Arcoiris to move their offices to a safer neighborhood. The grant also funded emergency medical and psychosocial treatment for Donny and supported Arcoiris to use the local media to raise awareness of the attacks.

AJWS also advocated on behalf of Arcoiris to Front Line, an Irish organization that offers emergency support for human rights defenders. Funding from Front Line has enabled Arcoiris to install a security wall and alarm in their new offices.

Arcoiris is now advocating for an investigation into these incidents and the continued harassment against LGBT people, especially activists, by the Tegucigalpa police. “We cannot allow both cases to pass, nor can we consider them isolated,” Arcoiris recently announced in a press release. “We consider both cases to be associated with homophobia and repression against our group by organized people within the police.”

People living in the United States can take a stand and speak out against these injustices. To stand up for justice everywhere, AJWS urges our supporters to take action to support Donny, Josef, and the LGBT community in Honduras. Please visit Amnesty International's urgent action page to sign a letter on behalf of this community and make your voice heard.