A gay activist in Chilpancingo, the second-largest city of the state of Guerrero, Mexico, has been murdered in what is being called by social organizations, academics, writers, party representatives and activists "an assassination".
Leija Herrera, was the director of del Centro de Estudios y Proyectos para el Desarrollo Humano Inegral (CEPRODEHI, Center for Studies and Human Development Projects Inegral) and had participated in demonstrations, lobbied for civil unions and reported killings, discrimination and attacks against lesbians, gays and transgender people to the State's Attorney General.
His body was discovered Wednesday 4 May in the centre of the city covered in bruises, apparently caused by stones. Authorities suggested he may have been stoned to death.
Local activists have organised a petition to the State Govenor, Angel Aguirre.
It says that there is a "widespread climate of harassment and criminalization of the work of defenders of human rights in Mexico and the cruelty and brutality of the murder presents evidence of a homophobic hate crime."
The petition demands a prompt, independent, comprehensive, effective and impartial investigation into murder, an end to all forms of harassment against LGBT people and respect for international human rights and the work of advocates in Mexico.
A letter to the Governor, the Attorney General, the CODDEHUM and media said that "the state and its institutions" had been complicit in the silence and impunity in "this and other attacks against homosexuals."
Among the signatories to the letter are academics from the UAG, and organizations like Calmecac, AC, Grupo Cultural La Mancha, Onu Women, Catholics for the right to decide, The Hank Collective, Community Roots, Collective We, TADECO, Ceprodehi, Suspeg, Los Angeles in search of freedom, among others.
A LGBT leader from a nearby city, Zihuatanejo, Ramiro Sotelo Rizo, expressed his outrage against the murder.
Sotelo said that he felt "very sad" that there are still hate crimes, because fighting for the rights of the gay community has been peaceful.
"It's very sad for us to know these facts, as we have worked in a peaceful way, and everything we have done with effort, what we ask for is respect, and it is unfortunate these crimes continue," he said.He said that in a number of hate crimes "is always said to be from other causes, when in fact they are homophobic, and not given follow-up investigations."
"We're going to keep fighting and keep asking for justice."On intolerance and discrimination towards the gay community he said despite there being some advances, "there is always a homophobic person there."
"There has been discrimination in employment, as was the case with a fellow who worked in a restaurant and a customer came and told the owner 'I do not want a gay to serve me'. The owner spoke to the fellow and told him he had nothing against the gay community, but it was his business and he was not going to lose, so the fellow lost his job."
MENSAJE DEL PRESIDENTE DE CEPRODEHI, A.C. Y DEL COMITÉ ORGANIZADOR DE LA 8VA. MARCHA POR EL ORGULLO GAY EN GUERRERO, QUETZALCOATL LEIJA HERRERA. 13 DE JUNIO 2009