On Jan. 30, the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) welcomed LGBT leader Jose "Pepe" Palacios to DePaul University, where he spoke about the struggle for social justice in his native Honduras.
Since a 2009 coup d'état that overthrew the Honduran president and drew international condemnation, nearly 100 LGBTs have been murdered, Palacios said. The first two victims were trans women walking home from a political demonstration.
"That was no accident because LGBTQ people have been part and parcel of the overall resistance movement," GLN co-founder Andy Thayer said. "As such, they have been paying a very high price."
Palacios detailed the history of Honduran gay activism at the Wednesday evening event, before explaining how the coup impacted social movements.
As a founding member of the Honduran LGBT group Diversity Movement in Resistance (MDR), Palacios regularly works with racial minorities, women, unions and those who are oppressed for their religious beliefs.
"Our differences make us stronger," Palacios said. "Our priorities are not just LGBT priorities. We have to think to be included with the different factions… [For example,] we would like an anti-discrimination law, not just for LGBTs, but also for Black people, religious people, women … What we need is social justice, not just for one group, but for all."
Honduras boasts the highest murder rate in the world, according to the United Nations.
Many fear that the impending November 2013 electionsthe first contested presidential elections since the 2009 coupwill place minority groups and social activists at even greater risk, Thayer said.
According to Palacios, LGBT activists are seeking civic and legal reforms including, but not limited to, hate crime legislation, gender identity laws, campaigns against school bullying, and sex education reform.
Eradicating social stigmas is also paramount.
"We have a lot of demonstrations of homophobia and transphobia within the resistance movement," Palacios said. "We know that. But we also know [people] are open to being educated because the machismo in our society… is hard to remove."
Palacios spoke at DePaul University's Arts & Letters Hall, 2315 N. Kenmore Ave. Act Out, DePaul's LGBTQA activist organization, co-sponsored the event.