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Mexico: Death of Pride organiser sparks new fears of homophobia

The murder of a leading light in Mexican’s gay community has re-ignited concerns from Amnesty International for the safety and protection of LGBTI people in the Central American state.

Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera, leading LGBT activist in Guerrero, was killed on 4 May in what appears to have been a homophobic attack. Amnesty International fears that other members of the gay pride organisation he worked with and other LGBT activists may be at risk of attack.

Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera, director of the Centre for Study and Projects on Integrated Human Development (CEPRODEHI), was attacked and killed in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero State, southern Mexico. He was apparently walking home after spending the evening socialising.

An outspoken advocate of LGBT rights, Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera and his colleagues organised an annual Gay Pride and diversity march in Chilpancingo every June. He and other CEPRODHEI staff had received death threats via the telephone in previous years warning them not to hold the march.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: “The tragic death of Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera proves that the issue of homophobia still needs to be addressed in Mexico.

“So far the Guerrero state police have focused on questioning his friends within the gay community. One has been held for two days in custody before being released. The police are now looking to interview other members of the LGBT community including previous partners of Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera.

“It is a trend of investigating homophobic attacks that has sadly been repeated in similar cases in the past.

“While it is vital for the authorities to follow all leads, police and prosecutors must stop focusing solely on the personal relations of the victim and look into investigating possible homophobic motives for the attack.    

“The Guerrero State authorities must hold a full impartial and prompt investigation into Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera’s murder and guarantee the safety of Gay Rights activists.

“Homophobia cannot be allowed to be swept under the carpet.”    

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