Young gay man tortured and killed in Mexico after he revealed that he had HIV

Mexico City Pride Parade 2019

A young gay man was tortured, burned and killed in Mexico after he revealed at a party that he was living with HIV, activists say.

The victim, who has not been named, was allegedly slain in a blacksmith shop in Cancún, a southeastern beach town in the state of Quintana Roo, in early June.

It was a night of revelry that slipped into mayhem when the victim informed party-goers that he was living with HIV, advocacy group Resilientxs told Presentes, a local queer news outlet.

He died from a “blow to the head with a blunt, short object”, the Attorney General’s Office said in a report.

“This case has caused us a lot of anger because we are in the month that commemorates the pride of our community in which rights are requested and claimed,” Resilientxs member Edwin Reyes told the press.

The authorities have since tracked down and arrested the alleged killer in Tabasco, some 900 kilometres from Cancún, who was a man believed to be the neighbour and tenant of the victim.

Some think of Mexico as a ‘paradise’. It is anything but, say advocates 

To Reyes, the tragedy touches off how Quintana Roo, with its sprawling beaches and blue skies, is thought of as a “paradise” to so many when the reality – for LGBT+ people especially – is anything but.

“This cruel case should not have happened,” Reyes said. “And it only tells us that the state has failed to legislate and create the necessary public policies to prevent, address and punish violence due to prejudice that exists in the state.

“That is why we raise our voices because Quintana Roo is not paradise, it is non-gay friendly.”

Seemingly compounding this, Vallarta Daily News reported that the State Attorney General’s Office has opened an investigation into the incident – but officials are treating it as a homicide, but not a hate crime. Hate crimes are not part of the state’s criminal code.

“The Quintanarroense LGBT Network, of which we are a part, has asked all authorities to reform the Penal Code to include hate crimes, according to international standards,” Reyes added.

“But they have not done it or taken us into account, this speaks of the institutional abandonment that exists in the state.”

With neither a state nor national-level registry for murders of LGBT+ people, it is often left to local activists to comb through press and police reports and cobble up rough tallies.

In 2020, at least 79 LGBT+ people were slain in Mexico, according to Resilientxs – 49 of the victims were trans women, continuing the imperilling trend of Mexico being one of the world’s deadliest countries for trans folk.

“Things are happening here,” Reyes stressed, and not everything is luxury hotels, beautiful beaches and parties.

“They are killing us.”