On the 3rd of June, 2016, gay rights activist and President of the Comunidad Gay de San Pedro Sula (Gay Community of San Pedro Sula) René Martinez was murdered, after having been kidnapped a few days earlier. Signs of ill treatment on his body lead the authorities to believe that he died after being strangled.
His remains were found in the Colonia 15 de septiembre of the Chamelecón sector of the municipality San Pedro Sula. The Honduran authorities confirmed that his body showed signs of ill treatment and extreme violence, as well as signs of a strangulation. The exact motivations for his murder remain unknown.
The killing of René Martinez left many people in the LGBT community without their leader. René had been a prominent advocate for the rights of sexual minorities and was an agent of change for Chamelecón. His commitment was not limited to promoting gay rights. He was also involved in working for the prevention of violence as a coordinator of the Centro de Alcance documenting cases of violence against the LGBT people. This project received contributions from the US Agency for International Development. Thanks to these efforts, it is now possible educate the public on the importance and seriousness of the issue based on sound data. Indeed this research showed that impunity was a recurrent problem in the assaults committed against LGBT people.
Passionate about politics, René had received many tributes for his work ,notably from Mayor Armando Calidonio for his dedication and hard work to advance the rights of the LBGT community. He was also an activist of the Partido Nacional (National Party) and was planning to seek a political role in the struggle against LGBT discrimination and violence.
The killing of René Martinez was a devastating blow for the Chamelecón communitya whole as he was a leader in the struggle to keep his region alive as well as a fighter for the rights of the gay community.
Despite these efforts, Honduras is still characterised by high levels of violence against members of the LGBT community. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is still a common issue in Central America.
René Martinez may have passed away at the age of 40 but his legacy is enormous for the LGBT community in Honduras, and in Central America. Condemnations of his murder came from all across the world and are a landmark in the fight for the gay and lesbian rights.
Through his activism, “Reny” Martinez leaves behind an example of perseverance and courage. The gay community stands firm and united demanding that his case not go unpunished.