SANTO DOMINGO – Activists from Latin America’s LGBT community on Monday urged the Organization of American States to take “clear” and “decisive” actions to stop homophobic attacks in member states, with the call coming a day after the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“We demand a clear and strong statement against discrimination against LGBT people in the Americas,” activist Deivis Ventura said during a protest in front of the Dominican Foreign Ministry.
The protest took place hours before the opening of the OAS General Assembly in Santo Domingo on Monday night.
Ventura condemned the killings of 49 people in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday and denounced “emerging mechanisms of hatred” against LGBT people in the Americas.
So far in 2016, about 500 gay men, lesbians and transsexuals have been killed in the Americas, Ventura said.
One of the most recent victims was Reni Martinez, a Honduran politician who visited the Dominican Republic last month for the general elections and was killed when he returned home, Ventura said.
Dominican Republic Women’s and Health Collective representative Lorena Espinoza, for her part, called on churches to “respect the rights of others” and asked the clergy to stop “sending a message of hatred.”
Paraguayan lesbian activist Camila Zavala criticized religious fundamentalism and expressed sadness over the Orlando attack.
“It is not only in Orlando, not only in Honduras, this happens in Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia. It happens in all the countries in the Americas,” Zavala told reporters.
Omar Mateen, the gunman who staged the attack on Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub, was born in New York to parents who emigrated to the United States from Afghanistan.
The 29-year-old Mateen died in a shootout with police after taking hostages at the club.