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IGLHRC

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Honduras: IGLHRC Expresses Outrage at Human Rights Abuses After Military Coup

(New York, July 17, 2009)

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) strongly condemns the recent murder and arbitrary arrests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Honduras.

IGLHRC has learned that these human rights abuses have occurred as a direct result of the military coup on June 28, 2009, which ousted that country’s democratically elected government. The coup was apparently precipitated by now-exiled President Manuel Zelaya’s attempts to amend the constitution and seek an additional 4-year term in office after his original term expired in 2010.

“The recent coup in Honduras is an illegal assault on democracy that violates the rights of all Honduran citizens, including those who identify as LGBT,” said IGLHRC executive director Cary Alan Johnson. “We especially deplore the vicious murder and arbitrary arrests of LGBT people in the wake of this crisis.”

The transgender activist’s murder occurred on the night of June 29, 2009, after she went to work during the military-imposed two-night curfew. She was found dead in the morning of June 30, 2009, one block away from San Pedro Sula’s Gay Community Center, with two gunshot wounds: one through her head and one in her back. Local activists in Honduras claim she was killed by military police patrolling the streets. Representatives from Colectivo TTT/REDLACTRANS have protested the murder. Read more

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Venezuela: Action Alert • Protest the Murder of Transwomen in Caracas

The Rights violated in this case include:

  • The right to life and security of person
  • The right to be free from discrimination
  • The right to equality before the law
  • The right to judicial protection

The Issue

On May 7, 2009, Xiomara Duran, a 27-year old transwoman, was wounded by six gunshots fired by an unknown individual on Avenida Libertador in Caracas. Two friends took Xiomara to the Periferico de Catia hospital.

On Sunday May 17, she was transferred to the Perez de Leon hospital, where she died the next day. This is the fourth murder to affect the Caracas transgender community in the last six months.

Two transpeople were shot to death on November 7, 2008 and March 23, 2009. Another transperson was stabbed to death in Caracas on May 4, 2009. All of these cases have been reported to the Prosecutor and the Ombudsperson, but there has been no response.

Take Action

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins Venezuela Diversa A.C. in requesting that you send letters in English with a Spanish translation to the following Venezuelan authorities, demanding a fair and exhaustive investigation into these murders and the adoption of measures to prevent similar crimes in the future. Feel free to cut and paste from our sample letter and contact the individuals listed below.

Please send your letters to:

Hugo Chavez Frias
President of Venezuela
Despacho de la Presidencia dggcomunicacional@presidencia.gob.ve
Luisa Ortega Diaz
General Attorney of the Republic of Venezuela mp@fiscalia.gov.ve
Gabriela Ramirez
Ombudsperson webmaster@defensoria.gob.ve
Luisa Estela Morales President of Supreme Court of Justice contacto@tsj.gov.ve
Carlos Meza General Director of the Metropolitan Police investigacionespenales@cicpc.gov.ve

Please send a copy to:

Fernando D’Elio / IGLHRC fdelio@iglhrc.org
Yonatan Matheus venezueladiversa@gmail.com

SAMPLE LETTER

Mr. Hugo Chavez Frias
President of Venezuela

Mr. President,

We write to express our deep concern over reports of the murders of
transgender women in Caracas, Venezuela during the last six months. The
murder of Xiomara Duran, who died on May 18, 2009 after being hit by
six gunshots on May 7, 2009, is the fourth reported murder in the last
six months to affect the transgender community in Caracas. All of these
cases have been reported to the Prosecutor and the Ombudsperson, but
there has been no response.

As a signatory to international human rights declarations and treaties
that protect the right to life, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to equality, it is Venezuela’s obligation to ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and perpetrators are brought to justice. This is required in all cases, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims.
Moreover, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international
human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity
specify that, “Everyone has the right to life. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity” and that, “Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to security of the person and to protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual or group.” The Yogyakarta Principles also stipulate that states should, “adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit and eliminate discrimination in the public and private spheres on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” (Principles 4 and 5).

We ask that you publicly condemn the murders of transgender women in Caracas, ensure that local authorities make a full investigation into these crimes, and find and convict the perpetrators. We also ask that you closely monitor the situation in the neighborhood, increase the police presence there, and do everything possible to ensure that similar crimes against the transgender community are not repeated in the future. The authorities in Caracas should respect and protect the human rights of all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We trust that you will give this issue the attention it deserves.

Sincerely,

Name:
Organization:
Country:

IGLHRC | 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 1505 | New York, NY 10038 | phone: 212.430.6054 | fax: 212.430.6060 |

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USA: Homophobic Human Rights Professor Withdraws Due to Student Pressure

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) commends student and other community activists at New York University (NYU) for successfully challenging the school administration and Dr. Thio Li-Ann in support of the human rights of people with diverse sexual orientations.

Thio, a Singaporean academic and politician, had been invited to teach human rights as a Global Visiting Professor at New York University School of Law, despite her public vilification of homosexuality and her strong advocacy for its continued criminalization in Singapore.

On July 22, 2009, Professor Thio withdrew her acceptance of the offer to teach at NYU, citing pressure from the university community. Individual students, student groups, LGBT organizations, and other activists had signed a petition and written letters condemning Thio’s hiring.

In a memorandum to the law school community announcing Professor Thio’s withdrawal, Dean Revesz expressed his view that the core principles of academic freedom and intellectual diversity on the one hand, and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on the other, were in conflict. IGLHRC believes that in an environment where there is advocacy in support of active discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation-such as Professor Thio has contributed to in Singapore-there cannot be true intellectual diversity and neither can supporters of sexual rights have the academic freedom that should be ensured for all.

“It’s like having a pro-apartheid professor teach human rights,” says Anurag Gupta, a member of the board of NYU School of Law’s Coalition of Legal Recruitment (COLR) and the National Lawyer’s Guild. “Thio is a leading figure in Singapore who prevented LGBT people from gaining equality. She can say whatever she wants to say but she should not be teaching human rights law at NYU. How can she advocate for human rights when she takes a fundamental anti-human rights position? Her views encourage discrimination and scare people, compelling them to stay silent in Singapore and in her classroom. It leaves LGBT people vulnerable.”

During the 2007 parliamentary debates in Singapore about the repeal of Section 377A, which prohibits sex between men, Thio stated: “Demands for homosexual rights are political claims of a narrow interest group masquerading as legal entitlements… Homosexual activists try to infiltrate and hijack the noble cause of human rights. You cannot make a human wrong a human right.”

Student groups have demanded a town hall meeting with the university to discuss the events surrounding Thio’s hire and Dean Richard Revesz has agreed. IGLRHC hopes that the ensuing dialogue will be pursued with transparency and respect for all those involved and will result in the implementation of a process to ensure that future faculty appointments are properly vetted.