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  WINDY CITY TIMES

LGBT delegation to Honduras reports human-rights abuses
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Matthew C. Clark
2013-12-10

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"It just continues and continues," Gay Liberation Network's ( GLN ) Andy Thayer told the other members at their regular meeting.

He was speaking about the violence, and murder of the National Party against Honduran citizens. Thayer had just returned as part of a delegation of LGBT activists who went to monitor Honduras' recent presidential elections, which included himself and GLN member Buddy Bell.

According to Thayer, the Honduran Equality Delegation, part of a larger left-of-center network known as the Honduran Solidarity Network ( HSN ), was made up of about 15 activists and spent Nov. 21 through Dec. 1 in the capital of city Tegucigalpa.

On Sat. Nov. 30, conservative National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez declared victory, which was quickly countered by the leftist LIBRE presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, who declared the election fraudulent and stolen.

In 2009, Castro's husband, then-President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup.

Thayer said the HSN was the single-largest human-rights and election-monitoring organization in Honduras, with more than 820 observers. There, he said we met with LGBT organizers such as Pepe Palacios and Erick Martinez.

Thayer said there was a wave of violence after the 2009 coup in Honduras, which he described as having the highest per-capita murder rate in the world. He said his delegation was there as part of a mission to "amplify the voices of the LGBT activists in Honduras," who he said side with LIBRE opposition.

"The LGBT movement has been profoundly impacted," he said. He described the coup as a wake-up call to the LGBT community to be inclusive of other political movements.

"You need solidarity simply to survive," he said. "This was in many ways their Stonewall."

Thayer said a large percentage of the trans community has been murdered, and described activists as exhausted.

"LGBTs play a prominent role in the resistance," he said. "In spite of their horrible conditions the activist movement is very much more advanced than our own."

Thayer said Palacios and others are calling on the United States to stop providing weapons and supplies to guerilla police and National Party military forces.

In addition to cutting off supplies, Thayer said GLN needed to increase awareness of the Obama Administration's role in Honduras, and to be critical of Honduras' lack of exposure.

"The US media, and LGBT by extension of this, are very good at being critical of human rights abuses in countries whose governments are opposed to the United States," he said. "You don't hear about the equally horrific conditions in Saudia Arabia, or Honduras."

GLN member and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence Buddy Bell spent time in the northern rural Sula Valley.

Bell said he spent time with rural families whose land recuperation efforts are at the heart of the larger LIBRE movement.

At the end of the meeting, members discussed possible actions to take, how to increase LGBT-community awareness of the issue and the sole journalist in the room.

"We're taking baby steps at this point," Thayer said. "It can't compare to the deaths, but at least we've started."

Thayer said videos of himself interviewing Pepe Palacios, as well as other footage, will soon be posted on the GLN Youtube page at www.youtube.com/gayliberation.


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