HomeNewsBriefPolice, Gangs Major Perpetrators of LGBT Violence in El Salvador
BRIEF

Police, Gangs Major Perpetrators of LGBT Violence in El Salvador

EL SALVADOR / 26 APR 2016 BY SAM TABORY EN

Data collected by activists suggest security forces and gang members are the principal perpetrators of violence against members of the LGBTI communities in El Salvador, highlighting the under-prosecution of crimes against sexual minorities in Central America. 

Karla Avelar, president of the Trans Communication and Training Association (Asociación Comunicando y Capacitando Trans - COMCAVIS TRANS) in San Salvador, says data her organization collected on over 600 murders of members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, or Intersex (LGBTI) community since 1993 shows that police officers and gang members are the principal perpetrators, reported ACAN-EFE

Activists had to track down and investigate the circumstances of these deaths because there is no public agency in El Salvador that registers the sexual orientation or gender identity of homicide victims. 

Avelar says that crimes against members of the LGBTI community are not isolated, that they generally follow a certain pattern, and go systematically unprosecuted. She says that transgender men and women are particularly targeted. 

According to ACAN-EFE, in the first three months of 2016 Avelar's organization has documented 29 cases of sexual minorities forced to flee their homes -- and sometimes the country -- due to threats, extortion, and attempts on their life by police officers or gang members. 

In 2015 there was a rash of prominent attacks carried out against members of the LGBTI community in El Salvador, including the separate murders of two transgender women and the police-beating of a transgender man. 

El Salvador's penal code does not include provisions for hate crime penalties for crimes targeting victims based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time police and gangs have been identified as principal perpetrators of violence against the LGBTI community in El Salvador. A 2012 report on Sexual Diversity in El Salvador from the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley cites instances of gangs requiring new members to carry out attacks against members of the LGBTI community as part of their initiation. It also documents instances of rape, abuse, and physical attacks carried out by police officers against gay men and trans women in particular. 

The report echoed Avelar's concerns regarding lack of investigation and prosecution of violence against the LGBTI community, particularly when police officers were named in the complaint.

Regionally, civil society organizations in Honduras have also identified police and gangs as principal perpetrators of violence against the LGBTI community. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Rights

Amid a broader crisis of violence and impunity in El Salvador, in which gangs and security forces are often pitted against each other, the victimization of LGBTI-identified individuals by security forces and gangs alike points to a shared culture of unchecked violent masculinity. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 28 JUN 2021

Convulsed by nearly eight weeks of anti-government protests, the Colombian city of Cali has also experienced a terrible surge in…

BARRIO 18 / 16 DEC 2021

Though El Salvador stands on track for another record low in homicides this year, the country was recently shaken by…

BARRIO 18 / 12 APR 2022

With a near unprecedented wave of arrests, the El Salvador government is doubling down and expanding on heavy-handed security policies,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…