A press release issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on December 17, 2014 reported the pervasiveness of violence including murders and violent assaults against LGBT’s in the Americas. This article is an edited version of that news release with added data and information from the OAS’ Registry of Violence on those nations that criminalize LGBT in the Americas. As there are no statistics on Intersex persons, we have not used LGBTI in this instance.
IACHR concerned over pervasiveness of violence against LGBTI persons and urges data collection by OAS member states.
IACHR documented 770 killings and seriously violent attacks against LGBT persons during the 15-month period, from January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
The Washington, D.C. office of the Organisation of American States’ (OAS) IACHR monitors and records instances of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons in the Americas. The IACHR is a “principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.”
Through its Registry of Violence (only available in Spanish), IACHR found that at least 594 LGBTI persons were murdered and 176 more were victims of serious injury in 25 OAS of the Member States during this period. Almost half of the 594 murders were trans women.
The majority of OAS Member States do not collect data on violence against LGBT. The IACHR Registry relies on state sources, media coverage and reports from civil society to compile the Registry. Despite the fact it is incomplete, the Registry reveals the diverse and pervasive forms of violence experienced by LGBT persons in the Americas.
In the eleven OAS countries where LGBTI are criminalized, the Registry documented that three, Jamaica, Guyana and the Dominican Republic reported a total of 20 cases of murders and serious assaults. This may seem low, but we suggest that instances of anti-gay violence in these and the eight other smaller nations that did not report, was simply not captured by the Registry for these Caribbean nations.
Jamaica reported eleven cases, with violent assaults against 8 gays and 3 trans persons. One gay man and 2 trans persons were murdered, including Dwayne Jones, the Jamaican teenager stabbed to death at a party near Montego Bay in July 2013. The other trans person as well as 7 gay men were seriously injured. In the Dominican Republic, 5 instances were reported, including 1 trans and 2 gay men murdered; and 1 trans and 1 gay man seriously injured. In Guyana, 3 trans persons were murdered and 1 lesbian was attacked by acid to her face, neck and legs.
IACHR noted some difficulty in asserting the sexual orientation or gender identity of victims, particularly with respect to murders. Sources of information, particularly media reports, seldom take into account self-identification when reporting and often portray LGBT victims of violence in insensitive terms.
In a large number of the assault cases, there was evidence of high levels of cruelty and excessive violence due to the sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. There is little information on any perpetrator. IACHR said it was troubled that instances of police abuse, included torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and verbal and physical attacks; it found that suspects severely under-report police abuse.
Eighty percent of trans persons killed were 35 years of age or younger. Trans women and other gender non-conforming persons are often targeted by law enforcement who tend to act upon prejudice and assume they are criminals.
Lesbians are at particular risk for violence because of misogyny and gender inequality in society but there is significant under-reporting. They are disproportionately affected by violence within the family. IACHR noted the lack of data on violence perpetrated against intersex people; medical interventions seeking to ‘normalize’ them, often without their consent is not reported, nor is it denounced.
The Commission urged OAS member states to adopt measures to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparations concerning these acts of violence, including measures to address the underlying causes fueling this violence. It also called upon states to produce data on violence against LGBTI and to protect their human rights.
- Panel will focus on anti-LGBT laws in the Caribbean (76crimes.com)
- Another homophobic attack in Jamaica (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica needs urgent action to save LGBT people’s lives (76crimes.com)
- 13-step plan to nudge Jamaica away from homophobia (76crimes.com)
- Signs of Caribbean progress for Catholics, LGBT rights (76crimes.com)
- Dominica leader: No enforcement of anti-gay law (76crimes.com)
- New Report Urges Latin American Countries to Document Violence against LGBT Communities (hrc.org)