Erick Martinez Partial Testimony from May 2012
Selected statements as dictated by Melissa Stiehler*
I knew someone (a trans woman) who was shot on June 29th at 5 am. They said she had HIV, so they wouldn’t operate on her. There has never been an investigation. That was in San Pedro Sula. That same night, in Tegucigalpa, a gay man was murdered. Over and over, murders or assassinations occur with no investigation. When these killings occurred, the sexual diversity movement and the resistance movement issued a complaint. We had a meeting with the Secretary of Security to discuss what the Honduran government was going to do about this. We ended up rejecting their offer because there was no promise of protection or even our lives. The international media claimed that the government was going to eliminate the hate crimes against us, but that isn’t true. They promised to make an anti-discrimination law. For six months, they kept us hanging on this. That was in November of 2010. By March of 2011, the entire international community was encouraging this law, but they still haven’t taken anything to congress.
We have a collapsed justice system. The people you file the complaint with think your lifestyle is a crime and don’t understand the love between two men or the gender identity of a trans woman. The efforts from our organizations have collapsed with the legal system because the system doesn’t have any conditions to make rights for us. The state is untrustworthy and will not protect us. They are often the ones hurting us, so we are forced to give the trust of our rights to the number one human rights violators.
An LGBT person in leadership is in danger. There is a fear from the LGBT community to rise up because of this. When LGBT leaders are assassinated, we can only assume it is a politically based murder. All these deaths aren’t helping us make change. We need our leaders alive. Currently, we need a political candidate from the LGBT community, but everyone has too much fear. NGOs will give sexual health assistance, so that leaves the resistance LGBT members to fight all the political battles. Where are the organizations? Where are the people? This is all so new; no one knows what we should be doing. We don’t have any political international help.
We asked for a discussion table including investigators, prosecutors, and court representatives to demand a response about our justice. We met with eight lawyers two days ago about this. Our tactic is to use international pressure to demand laws protecting our basic human rights. I see the issue of oppression (from the police) as a human rights issue. The police will visit the workplace of trans sex workers. They rape them, mug them, strip them naked, take them outside of the city and leave them there to humiliate them.
Mike Quigley (US Representative from Illinois) has reached out to help us. Jerry Polis, Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank; these people are our allies in struggle. I have tried to make a human rights observatory delegation, from the states, but I haven’t been able to do that yet. Most help we receive has been about HIV. There is international interest, but the local wheel just won’t turn. All the money that comes in (from international government aid, notably from the United States), none is spent on helping us, but instead it is spent on oppressing us. We’re leading a battle that is not ours. Honduras is facing massive militarization, so who knows what our community will be facing in the upcoming years. If you come out, you don’t have any financial help. You are left to your own fate. And it’s not just families, it’s the workplace too. There are no protections for an LGBT person who wants to live their life.
*This truncated essay is derived from handwritten notes during a personal interview, which had to be translated from Spanish to English. These are not direct quotes, but do convey an accurate account of the tribulations the sexual diversity movement is facing in Honduras today. For a full account of the interview, Spanish audio is available by request.