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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights: This is how 300 LGBTQ people in the first Honduran migrant caravan of 2021 live


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(Photo by Agencia Presentes)

Editor’s note: Presentes is a media outlet that covers gender and human rights in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador as a way to fight discrimination. The Washington Blade received permission to republish this article that was published on their web site on Jan. 18.

EL
FLORIDO, Honduras-Guatemala border — 100 transgender women are part of the more
than 300 LGBT+ Hondurans who have decided to flee their country in a migrant
caravan that left from San Pedro Sula early on Jan. 15, 2021. They are all
stranded in Chiquimula, Guatemala, as they wait for the authorities of this
country to allow them to enter Mexico and onwards to their destination in the
United States.

Like the
remaining 8,000 members of this first migrant caravan of 2021, the 300 members
of the Honduran LGBTQ community have endured long walks through the rain and
the cold, uncomfortable trips in the back of cars and trucks, in addition to
being clubbed and hit by Honduran and Guatemalan military forces.

Police and military repression

In
Aguascalientes, where they were reportedly taken under false pretenses from
infiltrators, hundreds of Honduran soldiers and police armed with tanks, rifles
and pistols waited for about 1,000 Honduran migrants. The soldiers had orders
to shoot at them if they resisted returning to Honduras, according to an
observer from an international group.

Meanwhile,
in El Florido, the caravan’s actual meeting point on the border between
Honduras and Guatemala, Guatemalan military forces responded to the caravan’s
intention to pass through that Central American country in order to reach
Mexico with sticks and blows.

Trans men and women, lesbians and gays are fleeing inequality, discrimination and poverty caused by the profound inequality of which diverse populations are victims. LGBTI migrants who are part of this caravan are also fleeing the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of Hurricanes Eta and Iota that ravaged the country in November 2020.

A large
part of the LGBTI community in northern Honduras lost their homes and
belongings when the passage of the two hurricanes destroyed entire
neighborhoods and buried them under tons of mud.

The
government of Juan Orlando Hernández has not done all of the work it said it
would do in the areas affected by the natural phenomena that devastated the
country last year. There are entire neighborhoods that are still buried under
mud and where no medical teams or government food aide has reached.

Agencia
Presentes accompanied many of the Honduran trans women who undertook the
journey with the first migrant caravan of the year.

Transphobia in the caravan

Groups of
LGBTI+ people, especially trans women and gay men who have a feminine gender
expression, are physically harassed during the caravan’s journey as Agencia
Presentes, which accompanied the 8,000 migrants to the border of Honduras and
Guatemala, saw.

An example of mistreatment and discrimination against LGBTI+ groups in the migrant caravan is the case of Fabiola, 20, who traveled from Tegucigalpa to flee discrimination and transphobia.

During her journey, a man demonstrated his strength by hitting Fabiola “to remove her from the men’s line.” Presentes observed a series of verbal insults and harassment against trans women by people who used words such as “faggots,” “idiots” and “assholes,” among others.

(Photo by Agencia Presentes)

Although it is the second time she has traveled, Fabiola this time hopes she will be able to cross the border, travel through Mexico and arrive safely in the U.S.

The trans
women walked hundreds of kilometers to reach the border. They were exhausted
and their feet were sore. They preferred to walk on foot rather than return to
the back of cars or pick-up trucks because they face more danger and harassment
if they climb back into the cars. In the case of getting into a pick-up truck,
they never do it alone. They do it in a group to avoid as much discrimination
and ridicule as possible.

Many of
the trans women did not bring any money with them for the trip, so some of them
were left behind along the way. They hoped to obtain some resources to continue
the trip.

“We have suffered discrimination. We live in the department of Colón and they don’t accept us for who we are, they look at us like a phenomenon,” Salomé, a trans woman from Honduras’ Atlantic coast, tells Presentes.

(Photo by Agencia Presentes)

“When
you go to ask for support, what they do is discriminate against us. After the
pandemic, sex work collapsed and we have fewer and fewer resources for daily
subsistence,” said a trans woman from the municipality of Villanueva who
did not want to be identified.

Gissele fled Valle in the department of Nacaome with a group of gay men. It is not the first time that she has done it, but she has faith that this time she will make it to the United States. She hopes to get papers that legally certify her as a woman. “They discriminate against us, they mock us and we don’t have work,” she lamented.

(Photo by Agencia Presentes)

Danny, 19,
escaped from his house because he could not be who he is. His mother does not
yet know that he is heading to the United States or that he is facing a series
of challenges in Guatemala to reach Mexico. That doesn’t matter to Danny, who
lives in Santa Bárbara, one of the departments with the highest rates of sexual
abuse and discrimination against adolescents and young people.

Honduras is one of the worst countries to be an LGBTIQ+ person. The government headed for the last eight years by Juan Orlando Hernández has blocked a gender identity law in the National Congress. The Supreme Court of Justice, in addition, has not ruled that same-sex couples can enter into civil unions, despite the work of organizations such as Cattrachas, Somos CDC, Kukulkán and OPRUCE, among others.

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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights