The recent murders of three transgender individuals in the department of La Paz in El Salvador highlight the violence and discrimination which LGBT persons face in El Salvador. The murders which occurred in the final two weeks of February have terrorized an already threatened community in the country.
From the Washington Blade:
Bryam Rodríguez of the San Salvador-based Generación de Hombres Trans de El Salvador told the Blade on Friday that his organization is “outraged by incidents of discrimination, violence and principally the reported and unreported hate crimes that are taking place in the area of San Luis Talpa.”
“There is no doubt that the actions committed by these criminals are promoted by transphobia, machismo and the government’s lack of interest (in urging) the police to conduct an exhaustive investigation to find those responsible and punish them for their acts,” added Rodríguez.The US State Department is reported to "support" an investigation into the recent murders. El Salvador's Minister of Justice and Security Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde has said that the police will investigate these murders as hate crimes. Yet talk is cheap in El Salvador, and recent experience suggests that the crimes will not be solved or prosecuted. On Monday, the Salvadoran organization COMCAVIS TRANS, which advocates for the transgender community, issued a press release decrying the lack of past prosecutions and an apparent lack of response from the office of the Human Rights Advocate (PDDH).
In January, Human Rights First issued a report titled Bias-Motivated Violence Against LGBT People in El Salvador, The report extensively details the problem of hate crimes in El Salvador against the LGBT community and the great difficulty in obtaining any justice for these crimes:
In interviews with Human Rights First, activists Andrea Ayala—director of Salvadoran LGBT organization Espacio de Mujeres Lesbianas por la Diversidad (ESMULES)27—and Karla Avelar both stated they know of only one case in which the perpetrator of a murder of an LGBT person faced justice. In that case the victim was a U.S. citizen and the involvement of the embassy moved the judicial process forward.
“It’s a big problem,” said William Hernández when asked about access to justice for LGBT people. The involvement of police forces in many cases of violence and discrimination against LGBT people breeds mistrust in the authorities, meaning many LGBT people do not report violations. The REDLACTRANS reports that many trans women are turned away or further victimized when seeking protection from the authorities.
Activists report that bias against the LGBT community is prevalent within the police and justice sector. A study from ESMULES highlights the homophobia within the National Civilian Police and the prevalent belief that LGBT people should not be afforded the same rights as other citizens. In the study, 66.8 percent of 413 police interviewed believed that domestic laws differentiate between the rights of an LGBTI person and other individuals.The Human Rights First report calls on the US government to take steps to push El Salvador towards greater protections for the LGBT community.