Members of Honduras’ LGBTQ community marched to the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Tegucigalpa on Thursday to hold a vigil in solidarity with the 49 mostly Latino people murdered in the brutal massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as they also continued to demand justice for the victims of rampant anti-LGBTQ violence in their own country that has seen a sharp increase in the wake of the U.S.-backed 2009 coup.
The action, bringing together some 200 people with candles, banners, and gay pride flags, called for end to hate crimes and violence against LGBTQ people in the Central American country and beyond, in memory of victims of the Orlando shooting and dozens of Honduran LGBTQ leaders murdered in recent years.
The march highlighted the case of Rene Martinez, a prominent gay leader and anti-violence outreach worker in Honduras’ second largest city of San Pedro Sula, who was confirmed murdered two weeks ago after family members reported he was missing.
Participants told media at the demonstration that the movement wants to see justice for Martinez, as well as for the victims of the Orlando massacre. They stressed that they don’t want the assassination of Martinez to go unpunished as has happened with so many other cases of LGBTQ hate crimes in Honduras.
A recent report by a coalition of Honduran human rights organizations found that homophobic violence and systematic discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is one important aspect of the country’s generalized human rights crisis in the seven years since the coup.
Violence against leaders and members of Honduras’ LGBTQ community, including murder, has spiked in the wake of the U.S.-backed 2009 coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped secure diplomatically.
A total of 36 LGBTQ people were killed in the first six months after the coup alone, as the country was hurled into a downward spiral of rampant human rights abuses, corruption, and impunity.
Research from the Index on Censorship, published by SAGE, found that a total of 215 LBGTQ people were killed between 2009 and 2015 in Honduras, with 37 of those deaths last year alone. According to the Honduran lesbian network Catrachas, an average of two LGBTQ people were killed every year between 1994 and 2008.
While Honduras continues to live with the crisis, the Latino LGBTQ community in the United States has been devastated by the Orlando shooting, where the majority of the 49 victims at the Pulse gay nightclub were Latinos, mostly Puerto Ricans.
According to local media, Honduran officials have not identified any Honduran victims among those murdered, but at least one Honduran man was present at the bar and survived the attack.