Murder of trans woman sparks fears of rising anti-LGBT+ violence in Ecuador

Thursday, 8 August 2019 20:16 GMT

Participants take part in the gay pride parade in Quito, Ecuador June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Tapia

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Ecuador has seen eight murders or unclassified deaths of trans women this year

By Oscar Lopez

MEXICO CITY, Aug 8 (Openly) - The killing of a transgender woman in Ecuador has ignited fears of a rise in anti-LGBT+ violence following recent gains in the South American country, activists said on Thursday.

Family members found the body of a 40-year-old trans woman known as ‘La Gata' on Wednesday in the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, the eighth case of murder or violent or unclassified death of a trans woman this year in Ecuador.

According to rights activists, one trans person was killed in all of 2018.

Diane Rodriguez, president of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations and the first trans woman elected to Ecuador's National Assembly, said the spate of deaths has the community in shock.

"Once again, the LGBT community in Ecuador is in mourning," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "We thought (the attacks) were going to decrease, but on the contrary, we've been surprised by this year's statistics."

Earlier this week a trans woman named Karla Fernanda Silva died in Cotopaxi province after taking diet pills laced with rat poison, local media reported.

The series of transgender deaths follows a string of recent victories for the LGBT+ movement in Ecuador.

In June the Latin American nation became the 27th country worldwide to allow same-sex marriage, while a law passed in 2016 allowed trans people to change their gender identity legally without having surgery.

In 2018, the country's top court legally acknowledged a lesbian couple as parents to their two children, the first such decision in Ecuador's history.

But now some fear the rising violence may signal a backlash against LGBT+ advancements in the predominantly Roman Catholic country of some 16 million.

"It's no longer that people want to threaten us - now they're killing us," said Rodriguez, blaming "the advancements in human rights that we've had in the country. What it does is to inflame the anger and hate against LGBTI people."

Rodriguez said a couple prominent in the same-sex marriage campaign, Boris Alvarez and Geovanny Vareles, were robbed and received death threats earlier this month outside the offices of right group Silueta X in the city of Guayaquil.

Alvarez and Vareles became the first gay male couple to be legally married in Ecuador in July.

Nearly 100 LGBT+ couples have registered to be married since the nation's top court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in June, according to the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations.

(Reporting by Oscar Lopez. Editing by Chris Michaud.)

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