At least 117 LGBT+ people were murdered in Mexico in 2019. More than half were trans women

Mexico City Pride Parade 2019

Handcuffed, stabbed in public and bodies littering the streets: At least 117 LGBT+ people were brutally murdered in Mexico, in what activists are dubbing the deadliest year on record in half a decade.

A leading queer rights group in the country said Friday that, based official news reports about murders, Mexico has seen a dizzying rise in LGBT+ murders.

The report by Letra Esse showed that the surge was up nearly a third (27 per cent) from 2018 and the highest figure since 2015. The group warned, however, that real figure might be even higher.

Violence and brutality is ‘specifically directed’ towards LGBT+ people, says group. 

Letra Esse director Alejandro Brito told Reuters: “We’ve documented that victims are subjected to multiple forms of violence, before or even after they were murdered.

“There is a cruelty towards the victims.”

The spiralling spate of violence comes as grisly murders become unbearably commonplace in a Mexico increasingly numb to the suffering of its LGBT+ communities.

Mexico City Pride Parade 2019

Mexico City Pride parade, 2019. (Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty)

A lesbian woman and her girlfriend, Brito said, was killed in the city of Cuernavaca. A street was dotted with the bodies of trans women. Victims bruised, stabbed and handcuffed in public places.

Trans women – one of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in Mexico – accounted for more than half of the murders, the group said. While a third of the victims were gay men.

This spectre of violence haunts them all the while LGBT+ rights overall across Mexico’s 32 states improve.

As Brito pointed out, half of Mexico’s states now allow marriage equality. Courts have also ruled in favour of cornerstones for trans rights, such as the legal right to change gender identity on official documents.

“The greater visibility,” he said, “has led macho groups, fundamentalist sectors to reject this public presence of gays, lesbians and trans people.” The violence was “specifically directed” at the LGBT+ community.

At least 441 LGBT+ people were murdered in Mexico between 2015 and 2019, the group said. 2020’s figures have already begun the climb – at least 26 LGBT+ murders have been recorded so far and 20 of the victims were trans women.