The National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization issued a statement saying they are 'deeply saddened by the murder in New Haven, Conn., of Jessica, legally known as Horacio Mercado. The victim was found in Mercado's burning apartment, which police say may have been set ablaze to cover up the crime. A stab wound in the neck has been ruled as the cause of death.'
No arrests have been made.
'This murder is another example of the violence that members of the Latina/o LGBT community face, often for simply being who we are,' said Martin Ornelas-Quintero, LLEGĂ" Executive Director. Dozens of reported murders of transgenders have occurred in the U.S. during the last 18 months.
Under anonymity, community members have informed LLEGĂ" that transgenders who knew Jessica are upset and frightened. Many feel unsafe going out, and tenants from Jessica's building are considering relocating. Fear of retaliation is a factor.
Connecticut does not have hate-crime penalties for attacks based on gender identity. Only seven states, along with the District of Columbia, include gender identity along with sexual orientation in their hate-crimes laws: California, Minnesota, Missouri, Vermont, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.
Current federal law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity under hate crimes laws. The 32-year-old federal criminal statute used to prosecute hate crimes only covers crimes based on race, religion, and national origin. The FBI does not track bias crimes based on gender identity or expression.