Leading Honduran LGBT Activist Found Strangled To Death

More than 200 LGBT people have been murdered in the country since a 2009 coup d'etat.

A leading gay-rights activist in Honduras was strangled to death this week, adding to the already alarming violence against LGBT people in the Central American country.

Rene Martínez

Rene Martínez, 40, went missing on Wednesday after leaving his home in San Pedro Sula’s Chamelecón neighborhood. On Friday, relatives identified his body at the morgue.

The U.S. embassy in Honduras described Martínez as “a leader in the LGBTI community… and a rising political figure in Honduras.”

“We offer our condolences to his friends and family,” it added, “and expect a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances of his death.”

Martínez was president of Comunidad Gay Sampredrana, and worked to combat the violence that plagues the country’s LGBT community.

Human rights groups estimate more than 215 LGBT Hondurans have been killed because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity since the 2009 and 2015.

Members of the gay and lesbian community demonstrates in demand of justice for the murder of the human rights advocate and leader of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, Walter Trochez, in 2009, in Tegucigalpa, on May 13, 2011.  AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

Threats can come from any direction: Shortly after the 2009 coup d’état, activist Walter Trochez (above) was reportedly assassinated by the new regime for organizing dissent.

In 2012, journalist Erick Alexander Martínez was tortured and strangled to death just a few weeks after being selected as the first openly gay candidate to run for Congress in Honduras. (Prosecutors insisted his murder was a crime of passion by a drug-dealing boyfriend.)

Just this past January, Paola Barraza, a trans woman and human-rights advocate, was shot to death outside her home in Comayagüela.

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

“I’ve been imprisoned on many occasions. I’ve suffered torture and sexual violence because of my activism, and I’ve survived many assassination attempts,” activist Donny Reyes told Index on Censorship.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery