Death of Honduran gay activist illustrates spike in hate crimes

Published: December 20, 2009

Death of Honduran gay activist illustrates spike in hate crimes

Walter Tróchez spent a lot time at Honduras police stations and morgues: he was the HIV-positive gay activist who got the call every time a transgender sex worker was murdered on the streets of Honduras.

His phone rang often. Human rights advocates say up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed nationwide — as many as the five prior years — in the nearly six months since a political crisis rocked the nation. Activists say the spike illustrates a breakdown in the rule of law in a country already known for hate crimes.

Tróchez is now among the victims. Last week, just days after he escaped a six-hour kidnapping ordeal, an unknown assailant fired at him from a moving vehicle, silencing one of Honduras’ most prominent voices in the gay community. Tróchez had also become a leader in the “Resistance Movement” that demands the return of ousted president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, raising questions about whether his murder was related to hate — or politics.

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