‘I Knew I Had to Get Out to Survive’—Violence Drives LGBT Central Americans North

‘I Knew I Had to Get Out to Survive’—Violence Drives LGBT Central Americans North
Gabriela Hernandez, executive director of the nonprofit New Mexico Dream Team, holds up an image of Roxana Hernandez, a Honduran transgender woman who died in U.S. custody, Albuquerque, N.M., June 6, 2018 (AP photo by Mary Hudetz).

The desperation of daily life in Honduras is driving thousands of people to join other Central American migrants in their long march northward toward what they hope is asylum and safety in the United States. Yet the situation is especially grave for those who are LGBT, in particular gender non-conforming men and minors. Perhaps that was why the first people to reach the U.S. border in the widely publicized migrant caravan last November were 85 LGBT people.

“LGBT people band together to protect each other,” says Aaron Morris, the executive director of Immigration Equality, which advocates for LGBT immigrants to the United States. A caravan that left Honduras’ second-largest city, San Pedro Sula, in mid-January included LGBT people escaping the rampant homophobia in a country that Amnesty International, in a 2017 report, characterized as a “circle of constant violence.”

At least 300 LGBT people have died violently over the past decade in Honduras, according to Cattrachas, a human rights monitoring network in the country, and the Honduran State Human Rights Commission, Conadeh. Half were gay men and almost a third were transgender people. Honduras, with a population of just over 9 million people, ranks among the world’s seven most dangerous countries to be LGBT.

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