Colombia: Protest the Murder of LGBT Human Rights Defender

The rights violated in this case include: The right to life, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to equality

The Issue

On March 6, 2009, unknown men killed the human rights defender Álvaro Miguel Rivera in the city of Cali, Colombia.

Álvaro was the representative of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organization, Tínku. He was also a member of Planeta Paz, a national peace network, and of the Polo Rosa, the LGBTI section of a left wing political party. Álvaro was far and foremost a committed activist who worked for the rights of the LGBTI community and people living with HIV. In the past, threats against his life had already made Álvaro flee Villavicencio, a city in Eastern Colombia.

Álvaro’s murder takes place in a city where violence against the LGBTI community is constant. In a March 12, 2009, news release, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) “condemned the murder of Álvaro Miguel Rivera Linares” and stated concern “about the situation of insecurity faced by those who defend the rights of the LGBT community in Colombia, especially in the city of Cali.” Álvaro himself documented such violence in Cali for Colombia Diversa’s 2007 human rights report and, until his death, continued to speak out against the killings of gay men in the city.

This is the second murder of an LGBTI rights defender in Colombia in the past 13 months. On February 16, 2008, unknown assailants killed Fredys Pineda in Apartadó, a city in northwestern Colombia. Pineda was a consultant on enforced displacement for the Ombudsman’s Office. In the past, Pineda worked for the rights of LGBT people and in HIV/AIDS prevention in Cordoba, a state in northern Colombia.

The organizations calling for this urgent appeal have also documented and made public the continued violations of human rights, including the murders of many other members of the LGBTI community in Colombia and Cali in particular.

For more information please follow these links:

Take Action

Please send a letter to Colombian authorities calling on them to investigate these murders and to take measures to prevent similar crimes in the future. Feel free to cut and paste our letter (enclosed) as a sample and contact the individuals listed below. Please send your letters to:

Programa de Derechos Humanos de Vicepresidencia:
Carlos Franco
Defensor del Pueblo
Doctor Volmar Pérez Ortiz
Defensor del Pueblo Regional
Dr. Andrés Santamaría Garrido
Fiscal General de la Nación:
Mario Germán Iguarán Arana
Jefe de la Unidad Nacional de Derechos Humanos y
DIH de la Fiscalía General de la Nación:
Leonardo Augusto Cabana Fonseca
Ministro del Interior y de Justicia.
Fabio Valencia Cossio
Policía Nacional de Colombia
Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Departamento de Policía Nacional en el Departamento del Valle.
Misión Permanente de Colombia ante las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra
Señora Embajadora Clemencia Forero Ucrós,
Defensoría del Pueblo:
Misión Permanente de Colombia ante Naciones Unidas y los organismos internacionales:
Embajador Angelino Garzón

Sample Letter

We write to express outrage over the murder of Álvaro Miguel Rivera, which happened on March 6, 2009, in Cali, Colombia.

As a signatory to many international human rights declarations and treaties, it is Colombia’s obligation to ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and perpetrators are brought to justice. Álvaro Miguel Rivera’s murder is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—both of which have been signed by Colombia. Furthermore, this crime violates fundamental rights enunciated in the Constitution of Colombia.

Moreover, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity specify that, “Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation” and that states should, “adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit and eliminate discrimination in public and private spheres on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” (Principle 2).

At a regional Level, the recently approved Resolution AG/RES-2435(XXXVIII-O/08) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” in the framework of the Inter-American System of Human Rights, also signed by Colombia, directs its government to take all concrete and necessary actions to avoid human rights violations that people suffer person because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, especially if they are human rights defenders or LGBT activists.

Finally, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in its Communication dated March 12, 2009, condemns the murder of Miguel Alvaro Rivera and requests that the state of Colombia makes a full and fair investigation into the crime and punishes the perpetrators.
We respectfully request that:

  • Colombian authorities publicly condemn this crime and conduct a full and fair investigation into it, guaranteeing that once the perpetrators have been identified, they will be punished to the full extent of the law.
  • The Division of Human Rights and the Attorney General initiate a research program, monitoring and following up on cases involving hate crimes or hate speech related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and providing compensation to the victims and their families.

A law on hate crimes is enacted, incorporating crimes related to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Once enacted, the state should create a plan to promote the law to security personnel, the judiciary and the general public, and especially to the community protected by this law.

  • Authorities do everything possible to ensure that similar crimes are not repeated in the future and include the LGTBI community in plans to develop increased security in Cali City.
  • Colombian authorities should respect and protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We trust that you will give this issue the attention it deserves.


    E-mail address:

    This action alert is supported by the following organizations:

    International and Regional

    • International Gay and Lesbians Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
    • Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    • Mulabi, Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos

    National and Local

    • Bogota Neoqueer Rockers
    • Colombia Diversa
    • De-liberar
    • Diversidad Humana
    • Grupo Interdisciplinario de Estudios de Género y Sexualidad, Paréntesis
    • La corporación EL OTRO
    • Lideres en Acción
    • Mesa Joven por la Diversidad Sexual
    • Mesa LGBT de Bogotá
    • Mujeres Enredadas
    • Mujeres al Borde
    • Planeta Paz
    • Red Colombiana de PVVS – RECOLVIH
    • Santamaría Fundación
    • Sentido bisexual
    • Sentimos Diverso
    • Sisma Mujer
    • TRANS-SER Red de Apoyo a Transgeneristas