Hundreds of LGBT advocates to attend Honduras conference

Hundreds of LGBT rights advocates from across Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to gather in Honduras this week for a conference designed to spur further participation in the political processes of their respective countries.

Randy Berry, the special U.S. envoy to promote global LGBT rights, is among those who are scheduled to speak at the gathering that will take place in the Central American country’s capital of Tegucigalpa from Oct. 2-3. Gay Peruvian Congressman Carlos Bruce and Costa Rican Deputy Minister of the Interior Carmen Muñoz are also expected to attend.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute co-organized the conference alongside Hivos International, a Dutch group that promotes LGBT and other human rights issues, and Caribe Afirmativo, a Colombian advocacy organization. The Association of Youth in Movement, which advocates on behalf of LGBT Hondurans and other marginalized groups in the Central American country, also sponsored the gathering.

“Victory knows the importance of having more LGBT people elected around the world,” Caryn Viverito of the Victory Fund told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “We’re thrilled to help our Honduras conference attendees transform their parties and their countries from within.”

Andrea Ayala, executive director of Espacio de Mujeres Lesbianas por la Diversidad, an LGBT advocacy group from El Salvador known by the Spanish acronym ESMULES, is among those who are scheduled to attend the conference in Tegucigalpa as panelists.

She told the Blade on Tuesday that this gathering and others like it are “necessary to learn and share wisdom between the different LGBTI activists who work in support of LGBTI communities.”

“When LGBT people are public leaders, it makes a tangible difference in moving equality forward,” added Viverito. “That is true no matter where you are in the world.”

Local activists to host pre-conference

A conference organized by Honduran LGBT rights advocates that will focus on how they can become more involved in their country’s political process will take place in Tegucigalpa on Thursday.

Nearly 200 LGBT Hondurans were reported killed between a 2009 coup that topped then-President Manuel Zelaya and May 2014. These include Walter Tróchez and Erick Martínez, two prominent advocates who were killed in Tegucigalpa in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

Reports indicate that transgender women in Honduras are particularly susceptible to discrimination from discrimination and violence from the police, gang members and other armed groups. The ongoing violence has prompted many LGBT Hondurans to seek refuge in Costa Rica and other Central American countries.

“The meeting is very important for us,” Indyra Mendoza, general coordinator of Cattrachas, a Honduran LGBT advocacy group, told the Blade on Tuesday.

Berry in a statement to the Blade applauded Mendoza and other advocates who work in the region.

“I look forward to meeting with civil society and political leaders from across the region to discuss how we can work together to advance human rights for LGBTI persons and end violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said Berry. “There is much work that still needs to be done, but the region offers significant expertise, best practices, and lessons learned to advance measures that protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination.”

Nearly 300 LGBT rights advocates from Latin America and the Caribbean attended a similar meeting last September in the Peruvian capital of Lima. The sixth International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC) Regional Conference took place in Cuba in May 2014.