October 14, 2015 at 10:50 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Prominent transgender rights advocate killed in Argentina

Diana Sacayán, Argentina, gay news, Washington Blade

Diana Sacayán, a prominent transgender rights advocate in Argentina, was found stabbed to death in her Buenos Aires apartment on Oct. 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Esteban Paulón/LGBT Federation of Argentina)

A prominent transgender rights advocate in Argentina was found stabbed to death on Tuesday.

La Nación, an Argentine newspaper, reported that police found Diana Sacayán’s body inside her apartment in the Caballito neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

Authorities said the superintendent of Sacayán’s building discovered her blood-covered body tied to her bed after he saw the door to her apartment was open. La Nación cited sources who said Sacayán’s body had stab wounds.

Sacayán, 40, was the director of the Anti-Discrimination Liberation Movement, an Argentine advocacy group. She was also a senior member of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Sacayán — a journalist who worked with Argentina’s National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism — in 2012 personally received an identity card from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that recognized her as a woman after the South American country’s landmark trans rights law allowing people to legally change their gender without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery took effect. Sacayán also spearheaded efforts in support of a proposal that would require officials in Buenos Aires Province to set aside at least one percent of public sector jobs to trans people.

Provincial senators last month approved the measure.

“I ask the national security services and the metropolitan police to solve this horrible crime,” said Fernández on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Human Rights Secretary Martin Fresneda in a statement echoed Fernández.

“Diana will be remembered by the employees of Ministry of Human Rights for her life, fight and militancy,” said Fresneda. “With deep sorrow, we pledge to work towards uncovering the facts (behind Sacayán’s murder) and the search for truth and justice.”

LGBT rights advocates in the South American country and around the world mourned Sacayán’s death. Reuters reported that dozens of people gathered outside the Argentine Supreme Court in Buenos Aires to pay tribute to the advocate.

“Diana Sacayán has left to us a legacy, a fight and a commitment to human rights,” said the Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender People of Argentina on Wednesday. “We will always remember her in this way, as a woman with a firm commitment to achieve a better quality of life for our community.”

Sacayán in May traveled to Cuba where she took part in events that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The National Center for Sexual Education, a group known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX that Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro directs, organized a series of events in Havana and the provincial capital of Las Tunas throughout the month. These included a May 5 press conference in the Cuban capital at which Sacayán spoke.

Diana Sacayán, first row, left, takes part in a roundtable on LGBT rights in Havana in May. (Photo courtesy of Francisco Rodríguez Cruz/Paquito el de Cuba)

Diana Sacayán, first row, left, takes part in a roundtable on LGBT
rights in Havana in May. (Photo courtesy of Francisco Rodríguez
Cruz/Paquito el de Cuba)

“Diana never turned her back to a just cause,” said CENESEX on its website on Wednesday.

‘Discrimination still kills’

Sacayán is the third trans woman killed in Argentina in recent weeks.

Marcela Estefania Chocobar on Sept. 6 disappeared after leaving a bar in the city of Río Gallegos in Santa Cruz Province. Authorities less than two weeks later found her remains in a local landfill.

The body of Coty Olmos was found inside her home in the city of Santa Fe late last month with multiple stab wounds.

LGBT Federation of Argentina President Esteban Paulón on Wednesday once again urged lawmakers to approve a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill for which his group has advocated since 2007.

“Discrimination still kills and we are not saying this figuratively,” said Paulón in a statement. “Cases like that of Diana Sacayán, Marcela Chocobar and Coty Olmos crudely demonstrate the effect that this discrimination has on people.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power on her Twitter page described Sacayán’s death as a “visceral reminder of why we must succeed in LGBT rights efforts.”

“We urge the Argentine judicial authorities to promptly solve the death of Diane Sacayán and all the women and LGBTI persons killed in Argentina,” said the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association of Latin America and the Caribbean on Wednesday in a statement. “It is essential to bring truth and justice to the families, friends and the entire Argentine and international LGBTI movement that will remain in mourning because of this unimaginable loss.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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