Gay immigration: What is it like to be gay in El Salvador? Report to the U.N. details the horrors

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"Coming Out To America," this week's cover story, follows two GLBT immigrants as they apply for asylum in the United States. One immigrant, a transgender woman named Kassandra, is afraid to return to her native El Salvador for fear of persecution. And for good reason. A 2010 report by several human rights organizations details horrors suffered by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people there.

"The Violation of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons in El Salvador" was compiled for the United Nations Human Rights Committee by several organizations, including the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and "Entre Amigos," a GLBT rights organization in El Salvador.

The report lists several instances of violence against GLBT people in El Salvador.

Among them:

  • In 2004, eight GLBT people were killed, including a man who "had a stone dropped on his head." After the murder, the perpetrator allegedly approached the victim's mother and asked, "D, the faggot -- was he your son?"
  • In 2005, two gay men were murdered. One of their bodies was found wrapped in a mattress, his feet tied with a cord. He'd been mortally wounded by a sharp object.
  • In 2007, three people were murdered, including a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old whose bodies "were found in a well ... The chief of police estimated that the killers used at least 50 stones to beat them in the head and face, leaving them disfigured."
  • In 2008, six people were killed, including a volunteer for "Entre Amigos." "The victim was waiting for some other members of the group to carry out educational activities to prevent sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS," the report says.
  • In 2009, the number of murders increased. One victim was a 17-year-old transgender sex worker. She was kidnapped in June and tortured for several days. During that time, the perpetrators called her friends and said things such as, "She is going to die. This is what she deserves." When her body was found, it showed signs of "extremely violent trauma."

Other instances include reports of lesbian women being raped by police officers, a gay couple being harassed by a neighbor who called them "AIDS carriers" and threatened to kill them, and a nurse imploring a lesbian woman to "repent for her sins."

Kassandra suffered similar violence when she lived in El Salvador. But luckily, she won't have to do so again. In early April, a Denver immigration judge granted her asylum.

More from our Immigration archives: "Gay immigration: Queen Boat incident, Egypt's infamous anti-gay raid, is reason to seek asylum."


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