Man who murdered Argentina transgender activist Diana Sacayán jailed for life on hate crime charge

A man who killed a prominent transgender activist in Argentina has been jailed for life – becoming the first person to be sentenced under a legal provision specifically targeting anti-transgender crimes.

Diana Sacayán, a campaigner for transgender equality and the first trans person in Argentina to gain legal gender recognition, was violently stabbed to death in her Buenos Aires home in October 2015.

The celebrated activist’s killer, Gabriel David Marino, was this week handed a life sentence by a Buenos Aires criminal court.

Marino is the first person in the country to be found guilty under a law that targets gender and hate violence against transgender people.

Argentinian transgender activist Diana Sacayán

The court found him to have committed an “aggravated homicide due to gender violence and hatred of gender identity.”

Sasha Sacayán, Diana Sacayán’s sibling, told Agencia Presentes: “This is a paradigm shift. It is the best outcome possible. It is the first time justice has been done for a transgender person.”

Juan Kassargian of the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism said the hate crime sentence was warranted “because the perpetrator selects the victim because he belongs to a minority and also sends a message of threat to the group to which he belongs.”

Police believe there may have been a second person involved in the murder, but they have never been identified.

Nora Cortinas, co-founder of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo human rights association hugging Sasha Sacayan, the brother of murdered trans activist Diana Sacayan (LAURA CANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Diana Sacayán, who was 39 when she died, had campaigned for many of the reforms that transgender people now enjoy.

She was stabbed 13 times, an autopsy revealed. and her 2015 killing sparked outcry from the country’s trans community – who face an extremely high murder rate.

Sacayán was well respected in her home country for her work with LGBT rights group Movimento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación and role as an alternate representative of the Trans Secretariat on the Board of ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association).

In 2012 she was one of the first transgender citizens to change their legal gender and was issued legal papers directly by Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner.

Official data on violence towards transgender people is often scant, but at least 2048 transgender people have been murdered in Central and South America since the independent Trans Murder Monitoring project began in 2008.

56 transgender people have been murdered in Argentina in the past decade.