Three women dead after lesbian couples set on fire in ‘abhorrent’ Argentina attack

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Three women have died after a room in a boarding house in Argentina was set on fire with two lesbian couples inside. 

After the attack on 6 May in Buenos Aires, three women have died due to their injuries.

Local news initially reported that one woman, 52-year-old Pamela Cobas, died in the attack. The Buenos Aires Herald now says Mercedes Roxana Figueroa, 52, died on Wednesday (8 May) after suffering severe burns. Andrea Amarante, 42, died on Sunday (12 May). The fourth victim of the attack remains in hospital. 

According to Maria Rachid of the Argentine LGBT Federation, the fourth woman “is recovering and has a good prognosis”. 

While police have not yet stated the suspected motive, the LGBT Federation described the attack as “abhorrent”. 

Police say the fire was reportedly started with rags doused in a flammable substance. The boarding house in Barracas, Buenos Aires, was then forced to evacuate after the fire spread to the rest of the building from the room the lesbian couples were sharing. 

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A 62-year-old man was arrested and then taken to hospital for treatment for a self-inflicted neck wound, before being discharged into police custody. He reportedly lived in the same boarding house as the women. 

A protest was held on Friday (10 May) outside Argentina’s National Congress building, demanding justice for the victims. 

The Argentine LGBT Federation have described the attack as a hate crime, and highlighted the current Argentinian government’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies

“Hate crimes are the result of a culture of violence and discrimination, sustained by hate speech currently endorsed by several government officials,” the organisation said in a statement. 

“The only spaces to which those of us who are victims of these attacks can resort are being emptied or eliminated by the current government… we will support [the victims] and help them and their families in whatever they need, and will follow the case in court so justice is served.”