Posts Tagged 'Honduras'

Honduras is test of new U.S. policy on gay rights

Honduras LGBT RIghts

Photo: Johny Magallanes / MCT

Repost from the Miami Herald

by Tim Johnson

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — From U.N. chambers to the halls of the State Department, global pressure on countries to protect the rights of gay and transgender people is rising.

For Josue Hernandez, the new emphasis can’t come fast enough.

The 33-year-old gay activist bears the scar of the bullet that grazed his skull in an attack a few years ago. He’s moved the office of his advocacy group four times. Still, he feels hunted in what is arguably the most homophobic nation in the Americas.

“We are in a deplorable state,” Hernandez said of gays in Honduras. “When we walk the streets, people shout insults at us and throw rocks. Parents move their children away.”

Three months ago, a U.N. report declared that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — or LGBT — violates core international human rights law. It listed nations where violations are most severe.

Joining a push that originated in Europe, the Obama administration said in December that respect for LGBT rights is now a factor in its foreign policy decisions.

The Sudden Rise of a Pro-Gay Foreign Policy in the United States

repost from Huffington Post

by Javier Corrales | Professor of Political Science at Amherst College

The Obama administration is often criticized for betraying gay rights. Despite having helped repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, critics still charge that the White House continually reneges on its pledge to work hard to end marriage bans and gay bashing. Yet, on another unnoticed front, the administration has actually gone far beyond anything ever promised. The administration is taking steps to establish the first pro-gay foreign policy in the history of the United States.

So far, this foreign policy effort is off to a good start. But unless a more systematic approach is taken, the administration’s baby steps will remain just that: a decent impulse with little reach.

Arguably, the administration’s first steps have been laudable. In January, President Obama issued a public condemnation of the killing of gay activist David Kato in Uganda and of five members of the LGBT community in Honduras. In reality, Obama is merely treading behind the footsteps of Hillary Clinton, whom the The Advocate, a magazine covering LGBT news recently described as the “fiercest advocate” of gay rights in the administration. In fact, Clinton was the first first lady to march in a gay pride parade eleven years ago. Today, she intends to become the first secretary of state to make the State Department pro-gay.

Clinton’s mission is simple: eliminate “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” anywhere in the world. She declared this in a speech in June 2010, in which she also called on U.S. ambassadors and foreign governments to join this battle. She even designated staff to work on ways to advance LGBT rights, created funds to help victims of hate crimes abroad, and even came up with a new slogan — “Human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights,” an adaptation of a similar slogan she once used on behalf of woman’s rights. Continue reading article on the Huffington Post

IACHR Deeply Concerned About Murders of Members of the Transgender Community In Honduras

Press Release | The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Washington, D.C., January 20, 2011 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is deeply concerned about serious threats, acts of violence and murders against members of the transgender community in Honduras.

The Commission has received information about threats and actions against the integrity and life of several members of that community.  In the last two months, seven transgender persons have allegedly died in circumstances that have not been fully investigated: Idania Roberta Sevilla Raudales (November 29, 2010); Luisa Alex Alvarado (December 18, 2010); Oscar Martínez Salgado; (December 20, 2010); Reana Bustamante (December 29, 2010) ; the youth Cheo (not identified; January 2, 2011); Génesis Briget Makaligton (January 7, 2011); and Fergie Alice Ferg (or Williams Afif Hernández, January 18, 2011).

In its report Honduras: Human Rights and Coup d’État, the Commission found that discrimination against members of the community of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI) has increased.  On January 29, 2010 the Commission adopted precautionary measures in favor of several members of that community and of the organization Catrachas, due to threats and attacks against them.  The recent murders bring the number of reported violent deaths to 34 members of the LGBTI community since June 2009 and, in particular, of leaders Neraldys Perdomo and Imperia Gamaniel Parson, of the Organization Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa, and Walter Trochez.

The IACHR calls upon the State of Honduras to prevent acts of discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTI community, and to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible and redress promptly and diligently the violations.

Impunity constitutes non-compliance with the State’s duties, it is harmful to the victim, his or her next of kin and society as a whole, it fosters recidivism of human rights violations, and it creates total defenselessness of victims and their relatives. Therefore, the State carries the international obligation to prevent human rights violations; should they occur, the State has an obligation to investigate them and prosecute and punish those responsible.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

Read the Statement from the United States Embassy in Honduras

Read UNAIDS Statement on the Killings in Honduras

Take Action – Join IGLHRC and the Honduran LGBTI organization Red Cattrachas in calling for immediate investigations and demanding state action to prevent future killings on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congressman Eliot Engel calls on Honduran government to end impunity for human rights abuses directed at the country’s LGBT community

At a Congressional hearing in Washington this week, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, called on the Honduran government to take action to end impunity for murders and other human rights abuses that have been directed at the country’s LGBT community.  In his remarks, he noted that 2009 “was especially brutal for Honduras’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Attacks on the LGBT community escalated substantially starting in June with 19 known murders of prominent members of the LGBT community.”  Many of those attacks are detailed in the annual State Department Human Rights Report, which was released by Secretary Clinton last week.  See an excerpt of all LGBT human rights references in the State Department report, including the egregious abuses in Honduras.

Engel also noted that “non-lethal attacks and other violent acts against LGBT individuals were reported on an alarming scale, and additional murders have gone unreported. The human rights defenders who have documented these abuses have been threatened and the atmosphere of intimidation for members of the LGBT community remains high.”

At the hearing, Engel released a letter that he had sent, together with Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), to U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens urging him to work with the new President of Honduras to curb LGBT violence. (A copy of that letter is available here.)  Ambassador Llorens responded immediately, emphasizing his commitment to addressing LGBT violence as a top priority.  (Read the Ambassador’s response here.)

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