Meeting with Activists from the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender-Intrasexual Community
We met with GLBTI activists at the office of Kukulcan. The organization is named after the Mayan god of the sun. It represents the beginning of a new era, a new dawn for society. The organization works with diverse sexualities and gender issues. We met with Eric, the human rights organizer for Kukulcan. We also met with Sandra from the Association for a Better Life for people affected by HIV/AIDS in Honduras and other representatives of the LBGTI community from the Violet Collective and other organizations.
We asked them about the effect of the coup on the LBGTI community and their perspectives on the situation and the future.
They said that before the coup, sexual diversity groups were not very strong. However, when Zelaya was elected, he made efforts to include the community that has traditionally been repressed by the church and by big businesses. Zelaya felt that they should be part of his “fourth urn” project to rewrite the constitution to expand the base of government. As a result, when the coup first occurred, communities of sexual diversity were part of the group that spontaneously surrounded the presidential palace.
After the coup, the community found that it had common ground with the resistance and became involved in the struggle. Although there was initially some prejudice, as the community became more involved, it was able to overcome this and become a real part of the Frente. One thing they have learned is to involve themselves in the political process. Before the coup, they didn't have much contact with campesinos or unions. When they became involved in the movement, even in the resistance, terms would be used that were derogatory. But they talked about these issues with the Frente and on Radio Globo and the Internet and overall they saw a transformation in the acceptance and inclusion of their community in the resistance. In this sense they felt that the coup and the resistance have moved Honduras forward in a big leap.
However, the GLBTI community has also been among the most brutalized by the coup. The community has lost 19 members who have been murdered by different security forces.
The best known victim was Walter Trochez, an LBGTI activist and member of the resistance. On December 13, a few days before he was to leave Honduras because of threats against his life including an earlier kidnapping, he was kidnapped and tortured by the security forces. The military refused to do the requested autopsy after his body was found, because they claimed he had AIDS. However, it was obvious that he had been shot in the eye and his tongue had been cut out. There has been no official investigation of his murder. Walter's parents are U.S. citizens and have asked the U.S. embassy to investigate, but so far there has been no satisfactory response.
Other deaths of members of the GLBTI community of a suspicious nature are also attributed to the coup. Many of them have been made to look like common crimes but there have been many more deaths than would be expected statistically. Also, of the 19 deaths, four were well known to be members of the Frente.
The activists we talked to hope that their community which in the past has been invisible, will become visible, that perhaps in the future they will have more participation in political life, maybe someone from the community could even be be a congressperson when democracy is restored. They believe that it may be four years or 10 years, but that they will see a society where they will be recognized.
Meanwhile their organizations plan to continue participating in the resistance. The activists we interviewed reiterated their committment to the movement and to the belief that a new Honduras is possible.