Alejo Portillo, 20, was found dead in the town of Colonia Azara, Argentina, on December 30th, with 42 stab wounds to his body. The shocking murder highlights a rising trend of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in the country, even though Argentina provides more rights to its queer citizens than almost any other Latin American nation.
According to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans Federation of Argentina, hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity increased in the country in 2022, with the group reporting 129 deaths last year, up from 120 the previous year.
Portillo’s mother, Alejandra Benítez, found her son’s body after searching tirelessly, as the Argentine police refused to help. The main suspect is a 20-year-old man with whom Portillo was in a hidden relationship. Argentine media reports suggest that Portillo was found naked and showed signs of having been raped.
Benítez spoke to Misiones Cuatro TV, saying that she last saw her son on December 28th, and became worried when he did not return home and did not respond to her WhatsApp messages. A march took place in Colonia Azara a few weeks ago, calling for justice for Portillo’s death and urging authorities to classify it as a hate crime.
Local queer rights group, Trans Travestis No Binarie Maricas Gay y Lesbianas de Oberá Misiones (TTNBMGLOM), condemned Portillo’s murder and stated that it was a clear case of hate crime. Maria Alejandro, a nonbinary activist from Misiones, told the Washington Blade that LGBTQ+ individuals live in a situation of extreme discrimination, marginalization, and violence, especially outside of the large urban centers like Buenos Aires. Alejandro added that Portillo’s murder is a symptom of this reality, and that they demand an investigation similar to the case of Evelyn Rojas, a transgender woman who was murdered by her partner in Misiones and whose murder was determined to be a hate crime.