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News > Latin America

Murder of LGBTI Activist Highlights Need for UN Measures

  • A demonstrator holds a rainbow flag during the Gay Pride Parade in San Salvador, El Salvador, on June 28, 2014.

    A demonstrator holds a rainbow flag during the Gay Pride Parade in San Salvador, El Salvador, on June 28, 2014. | Photo: AFP

Published 2 June 2015

The murder of a trans woman in El Salvador exemplifies U.N. findings of “pervasive, violent abuse” of LGBTI people around the globe.

While El Salvador's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community denounced the murder of a trans activist and rights defender, the United Nations released recommendations Monday for the protection of LGBTI rights in the face of “pervasive abuse.”

The murder of 29-year-old Salvadoran trans women Francela Mendez is at least the 10th case of a trans woman being killed in El Salvador this year, according to LGBTI rights defenders calling for an end to impunity for crimes against trans people.

“The LGBTI community's rights are vulnerable because here nobody investigates anything in the face of acts of hate and discrimination,” Karla Guevara of El Salvador's Colectivo Alejandria, of which Mendez was also a member, told AFP.

“We lament the murder of educator and activist Francela Mendez, we join calls for justice for the crime.”

The crime in El Salvador resonates with the findings a new U.N. report on LGBTI rights, which highlights the serious human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people as a result of of violence and discrimination in all regions of the world.

“Violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia is often particularly brutal, and in some instances characterized by levels of cruelty exceeding that of other hate crimes,” according to the report by the U.N. Human Rights Office.

RELATED: International Day Against Homophobia Around the World

The report acknowledges that data on killings of LGBTI people is incomplete, but nevertheless points to “alarmingly high rates of homicidal violence.”

The report also details 20 recommendations for governments to tackle discrimination and rights abuses, including among other measures the repeal of laws that discriminate and punish on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the enactment of anti-hate crime laws, ending abusive so-called “conversion” therapies, legalization of same-sex relationships, and allowing the legal right to gender self-identification.

RELATED: 50,000 Chileans March for LGBT Rights

The U.N. report applauds some progress since the release of the first report of its kind in 2011, including 12 countries legally recognizing same-sex relationships and 14 countries strengthening laws to protect LGBTI rights, including several Latin American countries.

But violence, discrimination, and human rights abuses remain the overarching trend, according to the report.

In El Salvador, the country's Secretary of Social Inclusion called on citizens Tuesday to work together to build respect for diversity and reject all forms of violence to combat discrimination against LGBTI people.

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