El Salvador: LGBT group facing death threats

Members of the El Salvadoran LGBT group Between Friends Association (Asociación Entre Amigos), including the organisation's director, William Hernández, have received death threats and are apparently under surveillance.

Amnesty International believes this may be an attempt to stop the organisation’s work on behalf of LGBTI (LGBT) people in El Salvador.

Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal on behalf of William Hernández and the Asociación Entre Amigos, and Amnesty members around the world are writing to the El Salvadoran government asking it to guarantee protection for LGBT people.

On 1 June a man approached William Hernández outside the office of the Asociación Entre Amigos, in the capital, San Salvador. The man put a gun to William’s neck and said, "Don't turn around. Stop f***ing in the Assembly. Stop doing stupid things in the street because I know you are organising some sh*t for this month. I already looked inside but didn't find anything. Here I'll find what I'm looking for. Stop f***ing or I'll kill you before you get married.” The man grabbed a briefcase which William Hernández was holding and ran off.

Two days before this attack took place, the office of the Asociación Entre Amigos had been raided. Three windows were broken, the organisation’s files had been searched, and two threats had been written on pieces of paper and left in the office.

Since the raid, the Asociación Entre Amigos has moved to a new office, but staff believe that they may be under surveillance. A number of unidentified men have been noticed outside the office, apparently keeping watch, for four to five hours each day.

The opposition Christian Democratic Party and the Catholic Church in El Salvador are campaigning for an amendment to the constitution that would make it illegal for same-sex couples to marry and to adopt Children's rights. The amendment was approved by the Legislative Assembly in 2005 but now has to be ratified by the new parliament, elected in March. The Asociación Entre Amigos has been lobbying members of the legislative assembly and campaigning against this amendment.

The Asociación Entre Amigos provides sex education to LGBT people, as well as to the wider public. It has also spoken out about human rights violations against LGBT people and the failure of the authorities to investigate such abuses.

LGBT people in El Salvador regularly face attacks and intimidation. The Asociación Entre Amigos has reported seven raids on their offices during the last five years. Although in all cases the incidents have been reported to the authorities, investigations into the incidents have proved superficial, and nobody has been brought to justice. William Hernandez receives some police protection during his working hours following earlier threats against him.

Send an appeal letter by email, post or fax to the Salvadorian authorities expressing your concerns for the safety of William Hernández

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