TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — A transgender woman activist who had spent over two decades in the United States was buried Thursday in Honduras after unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot her to death.
Activist groups in Honduras said the killing of Melissa Núñez, 42, was another sign of how dangerous life is in Honduras for members of the LGBTQ community.
“We are worried because the violence in Honduras continues to increase,” said Merlin Eguigure, coordinator of the Visitación Padilla Women for Peace Movement. “The government should declare a state of emergency on this issue.”
Danny Reyes, a representative of the local Rainbow Movement, told local media there have been 35 crimes against members of the LGBTQ community in Honduras so far this year.
“They continue to kill us, they continue to violate our rights,” said Reyes. “We demand that the Honduran government do its best to start ensuring social justice.”
Núñez was killed Tuesday in the town of Morocelí, in the eastern province of El Paraíso.
Police say she had dropped some friends off and was leaving their house, talking on a cellphone, when she was gunned down.
Police spokesman Miguel Carranza said “the motive behind the crime is thought to be a personal issue with her enemies.”
Núñez’ sister, Glenda de Jesús Núñez, said the victim had returned to Honduras in November 2021 after living in the United States for about 25 years.
“I will remember her as a happy, charismatic, helpful person, always with her mother and family,” said Glenda de Jesús. “She never had disagreements with us and always supported us throughout her entire life.”
Danny Montesinos, the coordinator of the LGTBQ group Kukulcan, said 95% of the LGTBQ community that leaves Honduras does so because of “high levels of violence and discrimination, or people who have been attacked or fired from their jobs because of their gender orientation, or who have suffered life-threatening attacks.”
The head of the national human rights commission’s regional office in El Paraiso, Willian Yanez, said his office would follow the case to ensure the killing does not go unpunished.