February 19, 2016 at 5:42 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay man killed outside Chilean capital

Marcelo Velius Lepez Parraguez, Chile, gay news, Washington Blade

Marcelo Velius Lepez Parraguez was killed on Feb. 17, 2016, in what Chilean advocates describe as an anti-gay attack. (Photo courtesy of Frente de la Diversidad Sexual de Chile)

The murder of a gay Chilean man earlier this week has sparked outrage among advocates in the South American country.

El Mercurio, a Chilean newspaper, reported that two of Marcelo Velius Lepez Parraguez’s neighbors attacked him in San Bernardo around 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

The neighbors — a man and a woman — reportedly insulted Lepez because of his sexual orientation and the fact that he worked as a drag queen at a circus. El Mercurio said his alleged assailants also attacked his mother when she tried to defend him.

Frente de la Diversidad Sexual de Chile wrote on its Facebook page that Lepez was shot in his side during the attack. The LGBT advocacy group said that he died at a local hospital a few hours later.

“We strongly condemn Marcelo’s murder,” said Frente de la Diversidad Sexual de Chile.

San Bernardo is a suburb of the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Then-President Sebastián Piñera in 2012 signed into a law a hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The statute is named in honor of Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old whom a group of self-described neo-Nazis beat to death in a Santiago park earlier that year because he was gay.

Fundación Iguales, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, and other organizations have urged President Michelle Bachelet to strengthen the law. They have also called upon her administration to do more to combat anti-LGBT bullying in schools and other forms of discrimination that persist in the South American country.

“It is terrible that Chilean society has not learned anything after Daniel Zamudio’s grisly murder,” Fundación Iguales President Luis Larraín told the Washington Blade on Friday, noting that Zamudio grew up in the same Santiago suburb in which Lepez was killed. “The mix of social vulnerability with discrimination based on sexual orientation has unfortunately turned fatal.”

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

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