TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed in Honduras in the six months since its president was deposed in a coup, human rights advocates say.
That is as many homophopic hate crimes as were recorded in the Central American country the prior five years, The Miami Herald reported Monday.
Activists contend the killings are a result in a breakdown in the rule of law in Honduras since the ouster of former President Manuel Zelaya. The Herald reported that HIV-positive gay activist Walter Trochez was slain last week, just days after escaping a six-hour kidnapping ordeal, in a crime indicative of the dangers facing not only gays but Zelaya's supporters.
`Walter was afraid," Reina Rivera, director of the Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights, told the newspaper. "He was a leader in the (pro-Zelaya) Resistance, but we thought he was in a precarious situation because he was also HIV-positive and gay in a patriarchal, machista and homophobic society."
"Since the coup, there's been a noticeable uptick in violence,'' added New York attorney and human rights investigator David Brown. "There is a social breakdown and a breakdown in law enforcement."