Social Issues

Mexico No. 2 in LatAm in hate crimes vs. LGBT community despite legal progress

Mexico City, May 17 (EFE).- Mexico is commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia as Latin America’s No. 2 country in terms of hate crimes despite legal advances recognizing same-sex marriage, gender identity and the criminalization of discrimination.

Sexual minorities suffered 305 reported violent acts motivated by hate between 2019 and 2022, including murders, disappearances, attempted murders and suicides, according to The National Observatory of Hate Crimes Against LGBTI+ Persons in Mexico.

In 2022 alone, the Observatory documented 22 disappearances and 62 murders, attacks and suicides, with the majority of the victims being people between 25-29 years of age, trans women and homosexual men.

But for each documented case there are three others that are not counted, said Ximena Manriquez, the coordinator of the Observatory, which is an initiative of the Rainbow Foundation.

“Unfortunately, Mexico remains in second place in the number of hate crimes in Latin America, after Brazil,” she said.

“And, given that at this time we already have a registry and documentation of four dimensions of violence, we have a more general view of these conditions of violence and we’re seeing an increase in the numbers,” she added.

In all, the civil Letra S, Sida, Cultura y Vida (Letter S, AIDS, Culture and Life) organization reported an increase of more than 11.5 percent in hate-motivated murders against LGBT people in Mexico in 2022, when 87 such killings were tallied compared to 78 in 2021, although it also warned that the real figure is somewhere around 200.

Over the past five years, these murders come in addition to at least 453 hate-motivated killings, according to the organization’s annual report titled “Report on Violent Deaths and Crimes of Prejudice Against LGBT+ People.”

Violence against members of the LGBTI community in Mexico comes in contrast to the legal landmarks that have been established in the country, where since last year all Mexican states allow same-sex marriage.

In addition, the country’s Supreme Court last year recognized the right of trans children to rectify their gender on birth certificates, and the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the National Electoral Institute have made progress in identifications recognizing trans and non-binary people.

“It’s quite a contrast how there is progress in terms of the legislative framework but at the same time we’re seeing this prevalence of such extreme conditions of violence, involving taking the lives of LGBTI+ people for reasons of prejudice, linked to this hate and violence,” Manriquez said.

She attributed the violence to Mexico’s socio-cultural context, to religious groups and to the increase in hate speech, including among politicians.

“We also have to mention the generalized context of violence in the country, where this situation of the criminal economy makes us all much more vulnerable, particularly the LGBTI+ population,” she said.

Gloria Careaga, the general coordinator of the Rainbow Foundation for respect for sexual diversity said that “It’s very important to recognize the power that this movement has all over the country,” where it’s gone from being “a sin and a crime to being a legitimate interlocutor.”

“It’s super-important that this has been achieved and that’s resulted in legal reforms. At the same time, there are acts of courage because the fact that you dare to show yourself … as who you are still puts you into a permanent situation of risk” in Mexico, she said.

For the first time in history, the National Statistics and Geography Institute (INEGI) last year officially tallied the LGBT population in Mexico, finding that this group includes about five million people, or 5.1 percent of Mexico’s population 15 years old and up.

But Careaga sid that “the most important challenge” right now is for the LGBT population to become part of all statistics.

“INEGI really should incorporate sexual orientation, gender expression and identify into all its research so that we can really make the leap and become part of public policy,” she said.

On the other hand, Mexico will hold national elections in 2024, when LGBT rights will once again will be up in the air.

“I hope that one of the (political) parties will take responsibility for coming out in favor of our rights, but given the political polarization that currently exists, I think it will be difficult for us to achieve that,” she said.

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