Out in the World: Latin American LGBTQs remain concerned about violence

  • by Heather Cassell, BAR Contributor
  • Thursday January 25, 2024
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Ecuador's Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador, in 2018. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers
Ecuador's Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador, in 2018. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

Organizations have reported that violence continues to spike in Mexico and Ecuador and activists have been protesting in those countries.


In Ecuador, two LGBTQ people have already been murdered in 2024, reported the Los Angeles Blade. The murders are alarming, as the government's war against organized criminal groups has become more violent.

Earlier this month gangs raided a TV news station as it was broadcasting in the port city of Guayaquil, and authorities thwarted gang attempts to overtake a hospital.

Ecuador elected progressive President Daniel Noboa in November 2023. However, gang violence has escalated since he took office, to the point that he is asking for the U.S. and Europe's help, reported NBC News.

President Joe Biden immediately condemned the violence in Ecuador, reported Voice of America. On January 22, he responded by sending supplies to Ecuador to help combat the gangs, according to the White House.

The violence and the attacks on democracy and human rights also alarmed the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which condemned the terror in a January 17 news release.

LGBTQ people were already vulnerable in the South American country known as the launching point for the famed Galapagos Islands.

In 2019, Ecuador extended same-sex marriage and adoption rights, granted transgender people identification cards, and instituted anti-discrimination laws. The country even started an LGBTQ tourism campaign in 2021.

However, violence has been a reality for the South American country's LGBTQ community. The organization Runa Sipiy issued a report monitoring violence against LGBTQ people in Ecuador that showed 27 killings of queer and transgender people in 2023, according to the Blade. Ecuadorian authorities did not respond adequately to the murders, the report noted.

Diane Rodríguez, national director of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations, condemned the violence. She was also the country's first elected transgender representative in Ecuador's National Assembly in 2017, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.

Rodríguez told the Blade, "The current security crisis in Ecuador has had a direct impact on the LGBTQ community."

Attacks — physical, verbal, and discrimination accessing public services — against Ecuador's LGBTQ community have increased, Rodríguez said.


Meanwhile, in Mexico City, around 100 transgender activists took to the streets January 15. They demanded justice for five transgender women found brutally killed since the beginning of the year and called for greater social acceptance and better hate crimes laws, reported the Associated Press.

The activists decried the killings of transgender women Samantha Gómez Fonseca, Miriam Nohemí Ríos, a woman who only was identified as "Ivonne," and Gaby Ortíz, according to the article. Two other cases were not confirmed by law enforcement, the article stated.

Fonseca was running as a member of the left-leaning Morena political party, an LGBTQ rights group told ABC News. She was fatally shot several times and slain in a car in the south of Mexico City, local prosecutors told the AP. Her body was found on January 14.

Ríos, a transgender politician, was found dead January 11.

At the protest, participatns carried signs reading, "Your hate speech kills," referring to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's comments earlier this month describing transgender Congressmember Salma Luevano as a "man dressed as a woman," reported Reuters.

They blamed Obrador for the wave of violence against the community.

Protesters spray painted "trans lives matter" on the walls of Mexico's National Palace at a separate protest earlier January 15.

Obrador apologized for his statement during a Spanish-language news conference.

"I want to start by offering an apology to a colleague who identifies as a woman," he said January 9. "Yesterday, I said that she was a man dressed as a woman. I am very respectful and I believe in freedom, and people should accept anyone, regardless of how they identify."

A similar outpouring happened last year when nonbinary judge Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo and their partner were found murdered in their home, reported the Bay Area Reporter.

Mexico has a long history of being a violent place for LGBTQ people, especially transgender people. LGBTQ rights group Letra S documented at least 513 targeted killings of LGBTQ+ people in Mexico within the past six years, reported the AP.

Got international LGBTQ news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at WhatsApp/Signal: 415-517-7239, or [email protected]

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