Honduran medical investigators confirmed Wednesday that Sherlyn Montoya, a trans activist and well-known drag star, was tortured and strangled to death in Tegucigalpa last week, Diario Tiempo reported.
Montoya, dubbed “La Diva,” was found wrapped in gunny sacks in a small alleyway on April 4 in the country’s capital city of Tegucigalpa, Gay Star News reported. She was murdered two days after headlining her "Divas and Drag Show" the previous weekend.
“I am very dismayed at the news of the death of a member of the LGBTI community,” European Union Ambassador to Honduras Ketil Karlsen said in a statement. “Regardless of our sexual orientation, we all have the same human rights.”
Montoya, 29, was also a member of the Rainbow Dolls Transexual Women’s Group, an organization that defends and empowers impoverished trans women in the Central American country.
The National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras and the Rainbow Dolls Transexual Women’s Group are calling on the Honduran government to conduct a thorough investigation “to assure that this crime will not go unpunished.”
Donny Reyes, General Coordinator for Honduras’ LGTBI Rainbow Association, believes Montoya’s death is emblematic of rising homophobic and transphobic hate crimes in the country.
“What is happening in Honduras still does not have a name; it is simply savagery in the extreme expression of evil and lack of respect for life,” Reyes told the Washington Blade.
“This is based on three elements: first, religious fundamentalism in the name of God that comes from the pulpits and urges governments to discriminate and (promote) hate against LGTB people; second, a press that contributes and promotes this hate; and last but not least, the state itself by not, at the very least, taking positive actions to punish all of those who commit these terrible crimes.”
Between 1994 to 2017, 269 violent deaths of LGBTIs have been registered in Honduras, according to RNMDDHH, adding that a majority of these crimes occurred in the last ten years. Ninety-seven of those murdered were transgender people.
Two Rainbow Dolls Transexual Women’s Group members, Angie Ferreira and Paola Barraza, were murdered in June 2015 and January 2016, respectively.
Since the 2009 coup that removed democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, violence against Honduras’ LGBTI community has been on the rise.
Over 229 LGBTI people have been murdered since then, averaging 30 deaths per year, Honduran NGO Cattrachas told the Guardian. Between 1994 and 2008, there were an average of two murders of LGBTI people per year.