Salvadoran LGBT Activists Seek Justice for Murdered Trans Women

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Daniela and Yasuri were two trans women who were killed in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador, on Feb. 18, 2017.

(WB) A new anti-transgender hate crime was reported in the country on the night of Feb. 18, but the National Civil Police (NCP) described it as the murder of two men who were wearing women’s clothes in the center of San Luis Talpa in the La Paz Department.

The victims who have been identified as Yasuri, 29, and her friend Daniela, 22, had attended a dance that took place in the municipality of San Luis Talpa. According to the victims’ friends, a group of young men approached them with the intent of overpowering them and took them from the area. They were found dead a short time later with gunshot wounds to their faces, according to witnesses who said they were shot from a gray vehicle.

“I urge all of the appropriate institutions to provide individual and collective justice, to classify all these hate crimes and to provide protection and reparation to family members and the rest of the victims of our LGBTI community,” said Tatiana Molina, a trans woman and independent activist.

An amendment to Article 129 of the penal code that increased the penalty for aggravated murder that is motivated by a victim’s racial, ethnic or religious identity, political affiliation, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to 60 years in prison took effect more than a year ago. Article 155 of the penal code considers threats based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity as an aggravated threat and punishes those who commit them with 3-6 years in prison.

Ambar Alfaro, coordinator of the Permanent Table for a Gender Identity Law in El Salvador, said that the country finds itself in a situation of extreme violence where death is unfortunately no longer a matter of if. She told the Washington Blade that trans people are three times more likely to become victims of this violence because of the “heteronormative and patriarchal system.”

Another factor that concerns LGBTI activists is the lack of respect in the Salvadoran media when it covers or broadcasts the news.

Xavier, a volunteer for the Generation of Trans Men of El Salvador, told the Blade that this has a negative impact. He said coverage that refers to the victims as men dressed as women and not trans women misinforms the population.

Xavier and other activists said it remains to be seen if the NCP will continue investigating whether to classify this case as a hate crime, even though it has a legal basis to apply the full weight of the law. They also said they hope the authorities will find the perpetrators and prosecute them.

Editor’s note: LGBTI activists and organizations said on social media that another hate crime has taken place in San Luis Talpa. The victim’s name is Elizabeth and she was a trans woman from the area. The Washington Blade will provide additional updates as they become available.


- Ernesto Valle, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association

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