Honduran trans rights activist murdered

January 13, 2009

Honduras flagLast October I wrote about a report by Human Rights Watch (press release here), in which I was (and remain) critical of what I called the organisation’s “stony indifference to the suffering of Kyrgyz trans women”.

So I’m heartened to see this piece on their website in which Juliana Cano Nieto, a researcher with HRW’s LGBT Rights Program, calls for a full investigation of the murder last week of Cynthia Nicole. Ms Nicole was a Honduran trans rights activist and a leader of Colectivo Violeta (an organisation working for the rights and health of transgender people).

“Cynthia Nicole fought tirelessly to secure basic rights protections for transgender sex workers,” said Juliana Cano Nieto. “The authorities need to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this and previous attacks against the trans community”.


Serious violence against transgender people in Honduras has been going on for years. Activists in the country have called this to the attention of domestic authorities, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and UN special rapporteurs, with no response from the Honduran government.

Cynthia Nicole’s murder is the fifth in Honduras in the past two months and the figures support HRW’s claim that “violence targeting Honduras’s transgender community appears to be on the rise”:

  • January 9: Cynthia Nicole received three shots in the chest and one in the head in a drive-by shooting
  • December 20: members of the police assaulted a transgender activist doing HIV/AIDS outreach work
  • December 17: an attacker stabbed Noelia, a transgender sex worker, 14 times
  • November 21: an attacker shot Bibi, a transgender sex worker
  • November 20: an attacker killed Yasmin, a transgender sex worker and colleague of Cynthia Nicole

It’s my view that hate crimes like these must not deter trans people and our allies from working in whatever ways we can to bring about national and international recognition of, and support for, our entitlement to the protection of not only our fundamental human rights but also our very existence.

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