There have been a lot of small strides in gay activism in Mexico in the past several months. The largest was Mexico City’s passage of a law allowing for civil unions, and more recently Coahuila’s acceptance of a similar law. But the struggle is far from over for Mexico’s LGBT community, and gays and lesbians in one Mexican city have just lost their leader to violent crime:
The spokesperson for the gay-lesbian community in Matamoros, José Ernesto Leal Rodríguez, was found murdered, with 8 stab wounds, in his home, according to the state authorities.
The discovery of the body of the 42 year-old hairstylist happened at 3:00 pm on Monday when a relative went to the home…and found him with his throat slit in the living room.
”We think it might have been a crime of passion, given the violence that was shown, and because there was no forced entry, so the perpetrator entered because he was trusted by the victim,”said Pedro Castillo, the investigating agent for the Ministerio Publico.
Police in Mexico (and I’m sure many other Latin American countries) are notorious for writing off any crime perpetrated against gays as “crimes of passion”. While this may indeed be the case, one also wonders, as does another blogger whether if this might be a hate crime, given the victim’s recent petitions to local government to improve civil rights for LGBT people in Matamoros. According to La Jornada:
A month and a half ago, José Ernesto Leal made a speech in the name of 300 LGBT people to demand that the city — headed by Baltazar Hinojosa Ochoa of the PRI — stop the wave of violence and discrimination against people of different sexual orientation, who were arrested and fined with 920 pesos.
And if there were any doubt that homophobia is alive and well in Mexico, just check out how a Tamaulipas “newspaper” is reporting on the story:
PANIC ENSUES … In Matamoros there was alarm among the gay population…in my part of the world we call them fags…after media reported on a crime of passion between gays…
The San Antonio Express News reports that Leal’s family believes that robbery could have been a motive.