Family of trans woman shot dead by police bring landmark court case that could set major precedent for trans rights

Honduras trans woman Vicky Hernández killed by police

A landmark court case in Honduras will seek justice for Vicky Hernández, a trans woman who was shot and killed by police.

Robert F Kennedy Human Rights and Red Lésbica Cattrachas will represent the family of Vicky Hernández, a trans woman who was shot by Honduras police during the country’s coup d’état in June 2009.

According to Human Rights Watch, Hernández was a sex worker and activist who worked with the trans rights group Unidad Color Rosa.

Her case will be the first heard before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which includes 25 countries, that involves the death of a trans person at the hands of a government.

The organisations representing her family will argue that the Honduran government violated its obligation to protect the right to life.

Vicky Hernández case could set precedent across Latin America.

According to Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, a non-profit human rights advocacy organisation, the case could set a precedent across Latin America, where “countless people, particularly trans women, have been targeted, discriminated, and killed for their gender identity”.

As well as hopefully achieving justice for Hernández’s death, the case could also put pressure on Latin American governments to better protect the LGBT+ community, and “could prompt investigations of other state-sanctioned violence against the LGBTQ community during the Honduran coup”.

Angelita Baeyens, vice president of international advocacy and litigation for Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, said in a statement: “For any family who has suffered an incredible loss like Vicky’s, we would hope for a thorough investigation, we would hope for proper accountability, we would hope for justice.

“But over the past decade Vicky’s family has been denied all of these things simply because of her trans identity.

“This crucial turning point in Vicky’s case could not only bring her family a measure of justice they well deserve but importantly extend protections to all trans women in Honduras and throughout the region.

“We can’t think of a more fitting way to honor Vicky’s life and legacy, one spent defending the rights of others until the very end.”

According to the organisation, in the decade since Vicky Hernández’s death the LGBT+ community has faced relentless violence in Honduras with 370 murders of LGBT+ people, 117 of which were trans women.

Indyra Mendoza, founder of LGBT+ rights collective Red Lésbica Cattrachas, added: “This case represents an opportunity to provide collective justice.

“Justice for Vicky and her family, but also for the 370 LGBTQ people that have been killed in Honduras since her murder.

“Honduras will finally have to take measures to truly guarantee the rights of LGBTQ people in the country.”

The hearing is set to take place on November 11 and 12.