Friday, 15 April 2011

Increasing repression of sexual diversity in Honduras

Statement Regarding Rising Violence Directed at LGBTI Hondurans

Issued by the Honduran Movement for Sexual Diversity in Resistance (MDR), in Tegucigalpa, on March 7, 2011

Honduras’ Movement for Sexual Diversity in Resistance (or MDR – it’s acronym is Spanish condemns the alarming increase in murders and other hate crimes targeting members of the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual and Intersex (LGBTI) community. MDR also denounces the negligent, disingenuous, and duplicitous response to the above by the Honduran illegitimate government led by Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

Since the June 28, 2009 coup d’état led by political, military, and religious elites, there have been 37 murders of LGBTI individuals. Records show from 2000 to the time of the coup, the number of murders targeting LGBTI folks amounted to ten. The surge in the last 1 ½ years represents a 2,000% increase per year.

Portraying this situation as “normal,” (as recent press releases by Honduras’ National Bureau of Criminal Investigations have attempted to do) or simply shrugging off the murders as personal quarrels ending crimes of passion or as the outcome of generalized homophobia and/or a result of the country's culture is problematic and naive and serves only to perpetuate unsubstantiated, reckless, and misinformed biases.

MDR is reaching out to the international community, national and international human rights organizations, and the people of Honduras and expresses its concern over the large number of the members of our community that have been brutally murdered. MDR echoes its alarm over the reigning state of impunity surrounding their killings, and the complete incompetence with which the government bodies entrusted with public security and access to justice have handled them.

We wish to highlight the following:

• The repression and “social cleansing” enacted by the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti Bain, which took power immediately after the coup, did not end with the transfer of power to the regime successor Porfirio Lobo. In the past 13 months since Mr. Lobo took over the government there have been 14 murders perpetrated against members of our community. None of those murders has been investigated in depth and no judicial proceedings have been launched.

• On January 27, 2011, Mr. Lobo laid bare to the national media and international community, the inability and incompetence of the Honduran judicial system when he asked the U.S. Department of State to intervene and help investigate and prosecute the murders and assassinations of journalists and LGBTI folks in post-coup Honduras. Addressing the issue by handing over the administration of justice to a foreign government is an irrational move by the Lobo regime.

• That day, Mr. Lobo also derisively referred to the murders and assassinations of LGBTI folks in post-coup Honduras as “allegations about one or two gays being murdered" demonstrating his complete indifference and disregard about the crimes.

• Last November, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council reviewed the situation on the ground in Honduras. The Council’s conclusions and recommendations underscored the Hondurans’ sense of defenselessness as the country’s laws are flaunted with impunity. The Human Rights Council made a series of recommendations to the Honduran regime underscoring its concern for the increase in extra judicial executions based on sexual orientation. As of today, the regime has not taken any concrete steps to follow up on those recommendations or to signal any serious interest in preventing hate crimes or strengthening the justice system to respond to them.

• The undisputed main goal of the Honduran regime is to secure international recognition and whitewash its illegitimate rise to power. In trying to do just that, the regime has resorted to trickery and deceit, by relying on a media campaign intended to give the false appearance of reaching out to LGBTI groups. With this cynical and desperate gesture, Mr. Lobo hopes to portray himself and his regime as intent on enforcing human rights laws, investigating of the murders and assassinations above, and prosecuting those responsible - a move intended to give the impression that the regime is following up on the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council last November.

• Mr. Lobo has a dangerous and contradictory track record of disingenuous and duplicitous moves as evidenced by the wild fluctuations of his political philosophy - from militant communist in the ‘70s to conservative and sometimes fascist politician during the last decade (promoting the death penalty, the treatment of juvenile offenders as hardened criminals, and outright aggression against the LGBTI community). Today he tries to hides his religious fundamentalist views by portraying himself as a Christian humanist.

• The Honduran National Congress, acting as Mr. Lobo’s covert agent, underscores the regime’s outright homophobia and the pandering to ultra-conservative groups within the Catholic and Evangelical Churches. In contravention of the Iberian-American Youth Convention (to which Honduras is a party), Congress approved a National Youth Policy that left out any mention of work aimed at preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both the National Youth Policy and the Iberian-American Youth Convention are key mechanisms to help prevent violence and hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

• The regime continues to pursue a policy of heavy-handed repression to address growing insecurity and violence in the country. Instead of strengthening the justice system and establishing a comprehensive policy of public safety that centers on the prevention of violence and crime, the regime has chosen to deploy army troops to urban setting where they patrol the streets with the National Police. The army’s role as the principal aggressor and perpetrator of violence and crimes against the Honduran people, particularly LGBTI Hondurans, is widely known and documented.

• Additionally, Congress is considering a bill that would violate constitutional guarantees and give the National Police and the Army the power and authority to detain suspects for longer periods without just cause. The expected outcome is an upsurge in human rights violations directed at LGBTI folks.

In light of the above, the Movement for Sexual Diversity in Resistance urgently demands the following:

a) The establishment of a framework designed to promote and protect the civil rights of persons from the LGBTI community and prevent homophobic violence and hate crimes.

b) The investigation of all hate crimes directed at LGBTI folks (as denounced and condemned at the national and international level by LGBTI groups) and the timely prosecution of those responsible.

c) The strengthening of the Honduran justice system to be able to address its lack of autonomy, its slow rate of responsiveness, and its indifference to the wave of violence gripping the country, and in particular its indifference to hate crimes based on the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation.

d) The adoption of real and concrete measures to counter discrimination, violence, homophobia and the persistent violation of human rights within and by the rank and file of the National Police and the Army. We call for the review investigation of the officers accused of violating the human rights of the Honduran people and in particular the LGBTI community, removing them from their duties during the investigations. Additionally, the National Police and the Army need to incorporate diversity training addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in order for them to assume and recognize their role as protectors of human rights.

Resistimos y venceremos!