El Salvador: Gay Activist Receives Death Threats

Press Release November 1999

SAN SALVADOR - The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is mobilizing its membership in defense of a Salvadorean gay and lesbian activist who has been receiving death threats. An anonymous person with a male voice made death threats over the telephone during three calls received by "Entre Amigos" on November 5, 1999, between morning and late evening. Entre Amigos is the Salvadorean Integral Development Association for Sexual Minorities.

In one call, the person said that he wanted to speak to the executive director, William Hernandez, and that he already knew how to reach the "Entre Amigos" office in order to kill him. The caller also left an accurate physical description of the executive director. In a later call that day, the same individual warned, "Tell that son of a bitch not to leave tonight."

According to Entre Amigos, there have been twelve murders of members of the gay and lesbian community in the past year. "We are taking these threats very seriously," said Alejandra Sarda, IGLHRC's Program Coordinator for Latin America. "There are those in El Salvador who are attacking the very fabric of civil society. This is a particularly toxic example of both homophobic intimidation and the undermining of democracy," she continued.

"We are mobilizing our members because the Salvadorean government is responding with indifference or active hostility to the safety of its gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens," said Jaime Balboa, IGLHRC's Director of Public Education. "We've received reports where police subjected people to physical violence, death threats, and verbal abuse," he continued. IGLHRC members are being asked to send letters to Salvadorean authorities, demanding that these crimes and threats be investigated and that the government commit to adequately protect the premises and the individuals involved. For further details, please contact IGLHRC.