July 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Activists in violence-plagued Honduras city hold Pride parade

LGBT rights advocates in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, take part in a Pride parade on July 15, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Freddy Funez)

Hundreds of people from across Honduras on Saturday participated in a Pride parade that took place in one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

Kendra Stefani Jordany, a transgender woman who is running for the Central American Parliament, is among the roughly 400 people who took part in the march in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula.

A bill that would allow trans Hondurans to legally change their names on legal documents are among the issues that Jordany and other parade participants highlighted. They also marched in support of LGBT Hondurans’ participation in the country’s general election that is scheduled to take place on Nov. 26.

Freddy Funez, a local LGBT rights advocate, told the Washington Blade the first Pride parade in Honduras’ second-largest city took place in 2000. He said people lined the streets on Saturday and watched the parade as it made its way through the city.

“What we want is that our vote, our voices are included in these public political processes,” he told the Blade.

Funez told the Blade a group of “homophobes” shot guns into the air during the parade. He said a group of evangelical Christians with loud speakers gathered in a park in downtown San Pedro Sula, but parade participants “did not realize what they said because we were in our celebration.”

Funez said nobody was injured during either incident.

“We want to demand the same rights that any other Honduran has in this country,” he told the Blade.

Parade participants seek ‘more inclusive society’

San Pedro Sula, which has a population of more than 700,000 people, is roughly 150 miles northwest of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

San Pedro Sula in 2015 had 171.2 murders per 100,000 people, which made it the most dangerous city in the world that it is not in a war zone. This figure dropped to 111.03 murders per 100,000 people in 2016.

René Martínez, a prominent local activist who was a member of President Juan Orlando Hernández’s ruling National Party, was found strangled to death in June 2016 after leaving his home in San Pedro Sula’s Chamelecón neighborhood.

Funez, who worked closely with Martínez, and other activists with whom the Blade spoke earlier this year while reporting from San Pedro Sula said police officers and gang members frequently target trans sex workers for extortion and violence and force them to sell drugs. They also said local residents who publicly criticize the gangs and the police and file formal complaints against them often receive threats that force them into hiding.

A lack of employment, education and health care and poverty have made many members of San Pedro Sula’s LGBT community susceptible to violence and discrimination. Many of them have chosen to flee the country for Mexico, and ultimately the U.S.

“We marched with the entire LGBTI community for a more inclusive society,” Javier Carrington, a local LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade.

The parade took place less than a week after David Valle of the Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation, a Honduran advocacy group, was brutally attacked inside his home in Tegucigalpa.

Valle was scheduled to attend a meeting of Honduran advocacy groups in San Pedro Sula on Monday the U.S. Agency for International Development has organized.

Valle was expected to attend a meeting of Honduran LGBT and intersex advocacy groups in the city of San Pedro Sula on Monday that the U.S. Agency for International Development has organized. Valle, who ran for office in 2011, has participated in Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute-sponsored meetings and conferences in Honduras, the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

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

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