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Transgender woman deported from U.S. murdered in Honduras

Melissa Núñez had lived in Miami

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Melissa Núñez (Foto cortesía de Reportar sin Miedo)

A transgender woman who the U.S. deported to Honduras earlier this year has been murdered.

Reportar sin Miedo, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Honduras, reported a group of “hooded subjects” shot Melissa Núñez in Morocelí, a municipality in El Paraíso department in eastern Honduras, on Tuesday night.

Initial reports indicate Núñez, 42, died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Indyra Mendoza, general coordinator of Cattrachas, a lesbian feminist network based in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, on Thursday confirmed to the Blade that Núñez asked for asylum in the U.S.

Mendoza said she did not know on what grounds Núñez asked for asylum, but Reportar sin Miedo reported she had lived in Miami and had more than 20,000 followers on TikTok. Núñez, according to Reportar sin Miedo, became “a strong activist” for LGBTQ and intersex rights while in the U.S.

Mendoza told the Blade that Núñez in December 2021 returned to Honduras after she traveled through Mexico and Guatemala. Núñez tried to return to the U.S., but Mendoza said American authorities deported her back to Honduras in July.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights last June issued a landmark ruling that found Honduras responsible for the murder of Vicky Hernández, a trans sex worker with HIV who died in police custody hours after the 2009 coup that ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya from power.

Zelaya’s wife, President Xiomara Castro, is among the Honduran officials who participated in a ceremony earlier this year during which the government publicly acknowledged it was responsible for Hernández’s murder. The admission the government reached with her family.

Violence and discrimination based on gender identity and expression nevertheless remains commonplace in Honduras. Vice President Kamala Harris is among the U.S. officials who have acknowledged anti-LGBTQ and anti-intersex violence are among the factors that prompt Hondurans and people from neighboring El Salvador and Honduras to leave their countries.

Camila Díaz Córdova, a trans woman from El Salvador who the U.S. deported, was killed in San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital, in January 2019. A Salvadoran court convicted three police officers of Díaz’s murder and sentenced them to 20 years in prison.

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Central America

Honduras government admits responsibility for transgender woman’s murder

Vicky Hernández killed in San Pedro Sula shortly after 2009 coup

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Vicky Hernández (Photo courtesy of Cattrachas)

The government of Honduras on Monday publicly acknowledged it is responsible for the 2009 murder of a transgender activist.

Vicky Hernández was a trans activist and sex worker with HIV who worked with Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa, an advocacy group that is based in San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city.

Hernández’s body was found in a San Pedro Sula street on June 29, 2009, hours after the coup that ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya from power. Hernández and two other trans women the night before ran away from police officers who tried to arrest them because they were violating a curfew.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights last June issued a landmark ruling that found Honduras responsible for Hernández’s murder. The admission was part of the settlement.

Solicitor General Manuel Antonio Díaz Galeas and Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina García were among those who attended Monday’s ceremony that took place in front of Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa’s offices. President Xiomara Castro, who took office in January, participated virtually.

Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, which represented Hernández’s family alongside Cattrachas, a lesbian feminist human rights group that is based in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, also attended alongside Hernández’s mother, Rosa Hernández.

“We should love our children for who they are because they come from the womb,” said Rosa Hernández. “No one has a right to take a life.”

Kennedy noted the Honduran government “has taken the first steps by publicly acknowledging and taking responsibility and apologizing for murdering Vicky.”

Violence and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains pervasive in Honduras.

Thalía Rodríguez, a prominent trans activist, was killed outside her Tegucigalpa home on Jan. 11. Cattrachas notes she and Hernández are two of the more than 400 LGBTQ people who have been killed in the Central American country since 2009.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Honduras to pay reparations to Hernández’s family and enact laws that protect LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination. Kennedy in her statement noted Castro has pledged “to making these necessary reforms.”

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Central America

LGBTQ activist in El Salvador receives death threats

Erick Iván Ortiz lost Legislative Assembly race in 2021

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Erick Iván Ortiz (Photo courtesy of Erick Iván Ortiz)

An LGBTQ rights activist in El Salvador who once ran for a seat in the country’s Legislative Assembly has received death threats.

Erick Iván Ortiz — a member of the Nuestro Partido party who is the director of communications for the Salvadoran Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Persons — spoke about the threats during an April 20 press conference.

Ortiz said he received two phone calls on April 13.

The person who Ortiz said threatened him asked in the second phone call where “should we leave the body” and whether “we should bury it or dump it in the river.” The Salvadoran Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Persons and the Nuestro Partido’s leadership have both condemned the threats.

Ortiz would have been the first openly gay person elected to the Legislative Assembly if he had won his race last year. Ortiz in January joined the Global Equality Caucus, a network of elected officials around the world who fight for LGBTQ rights.

Editor’s note: The Washington Blade on Monday published a Spanish version of this article.

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