Campaigners seek Christmas cheer for El Salvador gays

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Amnesty International is encouraging people across the UK to send a message of solidarity to William Hernández – a gay activist in El Salvador who has received death threats apparently intended to deter him from campaigning – as the campaign group launches its annual Greetings Card Campaign.

William Hernández is the director of Asociación Entre Amigos (Between Friends Association) and he and other members of the organisation have allegedly received death threats.

It is believed that these threats are attempts to prevent Hernández and his colleagues from providing sex education to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and also to discourage them to speak out against human rights violations against LGBT people.

Amnesty International Media Director, Mike Blakemore said: “The conditions under which William Hernández and his colleagues carry out their work in El Salvador are far from ideal. William’s been threatened at gunpoint and over the last five years, the organisation’s office has been raided seven times. In spite of the organisation reporting these raids, investigations have been superficial and no one has been brought to justice.

“Sending a card is a simple yet effective way of offering a great sense of hope and solidarity to William and his colleagues, and it also sends a message to the authorities in El Salvador that people around the world care about the staff at this organisation.”

Amnesty’s Greetings Cards Campaign – which encourages people in the UK to send messages of hope and solidarity to people around the world facing persecution, torture and other human rights abuses – is expected to generate thousands of messages for William and the other 25 cases featured this year.

Kelly McAllister, a transgender woman who featured in last year’s Campaign, received thousands of appeals from people around the world and this succeeded in putting the issue of police brutality against transgender people back on the map in Sacramento, California.

Mike Blakemore added, “During a season when so many of us are sending messages of goodwill to friends and family, we’re asking people to add an extra card to their list and really make a difference for people under threat.”

The campaign runs until 31 January 2007.