A trans asylum seeker has been violently murdered in Guatemala, after fleeing gang-related persecution in El Salvador.
The 27-year-old, who has not been named to protect her family, died last weekend.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that her violent death “highlights the need for effective protection to be granted to people forced to flee their countries, including members of the LGBT+ community”.
UNHCR added that the woman had fled gender-based violence and persecution by gangs in her native El Salvador and applied for asylum in Guatemala in 2018.
“We express our deep condolences to the family and loved ones of this woman who was trying to rebuild her life in Guatemala after being forced to flee her country due to violence and persecution,” said Giovanni Bassu, UNHCR regional representative for Central America and Cuba.
The UNHCR urged Guatemala to bring those responsible for the killing to justice.
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In neighbouring El Salvador, three policeman were jailed last month for the killing of trans woman Camila Díaz Córdova – the country’s first-ever conviction for a homicide where the victim was transgender.
Trans people in Central American countries face widespread discrimination, harassment and violence, with UNHCR partner COMCAVIS Trans saying that “the majority of LGBT+ people – particularly transgender women – are often initially forcibly displaced within their own country, escaping gang threats, murder attempts, and physical and sexual violence”.
“Many often endure years of violence and persecution before seeking asylum in other countries,” COMCAVIS Trans said.
In Guatemala, a homophobic president who is opposed to LGBT+ rights was sworn in in January.
Alejandro Giammattei, who is against same-sex marriage and abortion, gained a surprise victory in the August 2019 election.
He replaced outgoing president Jimmy Morales and will hold office or a four-year term.
The 63-year-old won the election last year for Vamos, a political party founded in 2017 by politicians, businessmen and military officers with a focus on battling poverty.
He promised yesterday to bring forward legislation that would declare street gangs terrorist groups and said he would promote the rule of law. He also committed to increasing employment.