Polis Letter Update

The sign on date for the Polis letter has been extended to June 21st! Please contact your Representatives to urge them to sign. If you have already contacted them- please take the time to follow up with them, especially if they are not on the list of signers below.

Below is an update sent from Gary L. Cozette, Program Director of CRLN and HSN-CAT

HSN Colleagues & Friends – Here is the latest list of signers to the Polis letter addressing the murders of 70 LGBT Hondurans since the coup.  The letter remains open for signature for two more days.  If your rep is not on the list, please contact the foreign policy staffer in the DC office of your rep in the U.S. House to ask him or her to join in sign.  The letter is again included below.

Current Signers as of Tuesday, June 19, 2012 – 4:00 pm

  1. Reps. Polis (D-CO)  =
  2. Cicilline (D-RI)  =
  3. Frank (D-MA)  =
  4. Baldwin (D-WI) =
  5. Berman (D-CA)  = *
  6. Schakowsky (D-IL) = 
  7. Conyers (D-MI) =
  8. Norton (D-DC)  =
  9. Woolsey (D-CA) =
  10. Grijalva (D-AZ)  /
  11. Velazquez (D-NY) =
  12. Hinchey (NY-OR)  =
  13. Schiff (D-CA) = *
  14. Lee (D-CA) =
  15. Blumenauer (D-OR) =
  16. Honda (D-CA) =
  17. Towns (D-NY) =
  18. Nadler (D-NY) =
  19. Jackson (D-IL)  /
  20. Quigley (D-IL) =
  21. Gutierrez (D-IL) =
  22. Farr (D-CA)  /
  23. Maloney (D-NY) = *
  24. Waxman (D-CA) =
  25. Stark (D-CA) =
  26. Johnson, H. (D-GA)  /
  27. Wilson (D-FL) =
  28. Yarmuth (D-KY)  /
  29. Speier (D-CA) =
  30. Moore (D-WI)  /
  31. Miller (D-CA) =
  32. McDermott (D-WA) =
  33. Carnahan (D-MO)  /
  34. Jim Moran (D-VA) =
  35. Bob Filner (D-CA) =
  36. Diana DeGette (D-CO) =
  37. Capuano (D-MA) =
  38. Rothman (D-NJ) = *
  39. Waters (D-CA)  /
  40. Keating (D-MA) = *
  41. Heinrich (D-NM) =
  42. Steve Israel (D-NY) =  

= 34 Signers are from Equality Caucus

 /   8 Signers are Not from Equality Caucus

*   6 Signers are first time Honduras letter signers

Gary L. Cozette, Program Director

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

Honduras Solidarity Network – Congressional Action Team (HSN-CAT)


Help Address Violent Crimes Committed Against the LGBT Community in Honduras

From: The Honorable Jared Polis
Date: 6/11/2012

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending the letter below to the State Department calling on them to urge the government of Honduras to take immediate steps to investigate and resolve cases of violent crime against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in that country.

Since 2009, more than 70 LGBT individuals have been murdered, and many of these cases remain unresolved. The State Department’s 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices found that the Honduran law enforcement has been complicit in human rights abuses, and that police officers had targeted vulnerable persons, including LGBT people. Given the level of U.S. support and assistance for the Honduran government, it is vital that we ensure they protect the human rights of all their citizens, especially vulnerable populations like the LGBT community.

The deadline for signing onto the letter is close of business Thursday, June 21th.  To sign onto the letter, please contact Rafael Reyneri at Rafael.Reyneri@mail.house.gov or 225-2161 in the office of Rep. Polis

 

Sincerely,

 

Jared Polis                                                       Barney Frank

Member of Congress                                     Member of Congress

 

Tammy Baldwin                                               David Cicilline

Member of Congress                                     Member of Congress

 

Howard Berman                                              Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                     Member of Congress


June 20, 2012

The Honorable Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State

Department of State

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madame Secretary,

We write to express our concern regarding the recent increase in violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Honduras. We have long supported your efforts to respond to human rights violations and abuses of LGBT persons around the world. As you have said, “this effort is one of the most urgent and important human rights struggles of all times.” It appears, however, that our efforts in Honduras are failing.

Honduras is currently experiencing institutional breakdown, widespread drug trafficking, and judicial impunity, which have led to unprecedented levels of criminal violence. Of particular concern are recent reports which have indicated that members of the LGBT community have increasingly been victims of violent hate crimes. Therefore, we would like to know what steps you are taking to ensure that this violence will end, and what steps you are taking to ensure that the government of Hondurassuccessfully resolves the cases of murdered LGBT individuals.

As the State Department’s 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reported, the Honduran law enforcement has been complicit in human rights abuses. The report states that “the Honduran police force had deep-seated and unaddressed corruption problems, and police officers targeted vulnerable persons, including LGBT people.” These problems persist. According to human rights organizations in Honduras, 70 LGBT Hondurans have been murdered since the June 2009 coup. Many of these cases have not been effectively investigated and remain unsolved. For example the report cites the case of Walter Trochez, which has been unresolved since 2009. The fact that these crimes continue to occur with impunity leads us to question whether the government of Honduras has the will or the ability to bring these perpetrators to justice.

Therefore, we call on you to urge the government of Honduras to take immediate steps to investigate and resolve these crimes. Given the level of U.S. support and assistance for the Honduran government, it is vital that we ensure they protect the human rights of all their citizens, especially vulnerable populations like the LGBT community.

In addition, we would like detailed information about the steps being taken to resolve cases like WalterTrochez’s. While we understand that the State Department has offered to aid the Special Victims Task Force—which was intended to bring to justice the perpetrators of these cases of egregious violence against the LGBT community in Honduras—targeted violence continues unabated. Just last month another national LGBT leader, Erick Martínez Ávila was beaten and strangled to death.  Mr. Martínez Ávila was a radio journalist and the first ever openly gay candidate to run for Congress in Honduras.

Finally, we request information about the ten LGBT murder cases that U.S. investigative and prosecutorial advisors helped the Special Victims Unit close. It is essential to know the names of the victims whose cases have been closed, and the outcome in each case, in order to ensure accountability for the resources the U.S. has allocated for the Special Victims Unit and for the Honduran LGBT community to know that these cases are being effectively prosecuted with U.S. assistance.

Given the pervasive threat facing LGBT persons in Honduras we urge you to respond with haste, so that together we can measure of the effectiveness of the government of Honduras in bringing accountability for the murders of LGBT Hondurans. This will help to guarantee that President Obama’s directive to ensure all U.S. government agencies engaged overseas “respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons” is rigorously implemented.

Sincerely,

 *************

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