by Eugenia Tovar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

by Eugenia Tovar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Colombia: How the LGBTI Community faces unfair prejudices.

13 Dec, 2018

by Eugenia Tovar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 2017, more than 100 people from the LGBTI Community in Colombia were murdered. Not only this is devastating to hear, but it also represents a significant increase in comparison to previous years...so, what has happened?

The NGO Colombia Diversa (Diverse Colombia) has released a report called ‘’Discrimination: a war that does not end’’ and in there it is thoroughly detailed how the majority of these crimes committed against members of the LGBTI community were acts of prejudice against the members of said community.

In other words, if you are LGBTI you will likely be discriminated against in Colombia. Only in Bogota (Colombia’s capital city), there were 12 murdered against members. And of course, the government does not even say a word about this.

Last year 45 of the most victims were registered as gay men, 35 transsexual women, six lesbian women, two transsexual men and a bisexual person. Of the other 21 victims, their sexual orientation could not be clearly established.

As the report states, five of the victims were human rights defenders. The researchers determined that this work increased their risk since, in addition to their sexual orientation, the work with the communities was not well seen by armed groups and of a right-wing ideology. Do remember that Colombia has a difficult internal politics and situation, Colombians have suffered years and years of violence coming from the government, from the FARC (Revolutionary armed fractions) and from other violent groups that claim power as well.

The homicides due to prejudice showed a considerable increase. In 2016, 41 cases were submitted, while in 2017 the figure increased up to 109, which is equivalent to 37% of the cases registered by the NGO. And what is most important to understand, that even though we are presenting numbers, we are talking about people, individuals who had a life, family and friends and who were - in most cases- brutally murder just because another person decided they could no longer have a life due to their sexual orientation or ways of thinking about life.

The most common cases were the murders of gay men in their homes, the murders of trans women in sex work zones and public spaces, and the murders of gay men and trans women in rural areas.

What’s more, the documentation also found that there are difficulties for these cases to be resolved effectively by the judicial authorities. The congested Colombian system affects to a greater extent that these murders and threats are being left out without been properly investigated and prosecuted. And even if there is some access to justice - if one is lucky enough - in most cases what happens is that the murder is left without being prosecuted or without taking him, her or them to jail. This also could possibly mean that they will soon find another victim to kill, and create a vicious circle of violence against members of the LGBTI community.

Being a member of the LGBTI community in Latin America is a difficult thing...now, being a part of this community in Colombia is even harder, especially when the word ‘’Marica’’ or ‘’Marico’’ (which means fags) is used and heard all the time, whether you are talking to a friend or insulting someone, it does not matter, the word fag is always present.