HIDALGO, Mexico – Gay and transexual people in a migrant caravan from Central America on Monday called on Mexico’s LGBT community for help after suffering from discrimination on their journey.
Thousands were traveling in the group and scores among them have formed an LGBT collective that aims to draw attention to members of the community who have left Central America due to persecution they suffered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We’re fleeing our home country because we can’t live like ourselves there, as an LGBT person, I can’t live in my country,” Mavisa, a trans woman who left Honduras with the caravan, told Efe.
“I had to leave it because of a lack of opportunities, because of discrimination.”
Mavisa is hoping to reach the United States via Mexico, a country where two-thirds of LGBT Central Americans fall victim to sexual or gender-based violence, according to Amnesty International.
Almost nine in every 10 LGBT migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have fled violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The young Honduran has faith in the goodwill of Mexican society and its president, Andres Lopez Obrador, who has offered medical assistance and accommodation, as well as 4,000 jobs in the south for foreign nationals.
But Mexico is promoting two job programs in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, one for young people and another for those who live in rural areas, which has led many in the group to distrust the authorities - who appear to be offering them jobs in the countries from which they have fled.
“I ask the Mexican people, the president, to open the doors to us, to the LGBT community, and to all the other people in the caravan because we’re making a big sacrifice, we’re walking from our country,” she said.
Mexico’s National Institute of Migration said at the weekend it had assisted a total of 1,087 people, 663 in the southern border state of Chiapas and 424 in the town of El Ceibo in neighboring Tabasco.
Some would prefer to stay in Mexico, rather than continue to the US.
Pedro, a 22-year-old gay man from Guatemala, traveled in another migrant caravan in 2018.
He got deported after a US judge denied him refugee status.
“The United States, for me, went from being an American dream to the worst nightmare that could have happened to me,” he said.
“I was detained for nine months where I was sexually assaulted, not only by my peers, by officials, by immigration officials.”
One in four victims of sexual assault or abuse by migration agents in US detention centers is a trans person, according to the US National Immigrant Justice Center.
Pedro said he would prefer to stay in Mexico and get help from LGBT groups there.
“I know a lot of the LGBT population and almost all of us now have our sights on Mexico,” he said.
“Yes I would like them to help us in one way or another - it’s pretty hard because even walking in this group we receive abuse, we get insults from our peers.”
Also in the caravan was Jose Vazquez, who said he left his home country to escape death threats from criminal organizations and hatred from society.
“The gangs are too much and right here in the caravan we suffer from abuse, the same as where we live,” he added.
“People see the gangs as something normal and us as something that can’t be part of society.”
Vazquez said LGBT migrants need to find work, like other Central American people traveling north.
“There are many more of us, almost all for the same thing, there are no job opportunities, we’re discriminated against and we have to go in search of an opportunity for a better life, I mean, we don’t go with the intention of hurting anyone, we simply go with the intention of working,” he added.