Although Mexico has made great progress in terms of legislation and protection of vulnerable groups, challenges persist in the implementation of these laws to address gender-based violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On Monday 13 November, Mexico was shaken by the terrible news of the brutal murder of magistrate Jesús Ociel Baena and his partner, Dorian Daniel Nieves Herrera, at their home in Aguascalientes, a state in Mexico. The discovery of the lifeless bodies with evident signs of violence unleashed a wave of indignation throughout the country.
Baena stood out for being the first non-binary person to hold a position in the judiciary in Mexico and Latin America. This historic milestone made him relevant in the struggle for LGBTQI+ inclusion and rights in the political and judicial spheres. However, it also attracted rejection and hostility from certain conservative sectors.
The first statements of the local authorities referred to “fact of sentimental emotion”, indicating that the victims might have taken part in a murder/suicide. These statements unleashed the fury of organisations and citizens who rejected this version of events, demanding justice and a thorough investigation.
In light of the previous threats and attacks against Baena, as well as his tireless activism in the defence of LGBTQI+ rights, his death generated suspicions about the official version of events. They denounced the inconsistency of the narrative and demanded an impartial and thorough investigation that does not rule out any line of inquiry.
Baena’s murder added to a series of acts of violence against the LGTBIQ+ community in Mexico. Prior to his death, Baena had publicly denounced threats and attacks directed at him and other activists. The case of Ulises Nava, an activist of the same community, murdered in similar circumstances, was one of the events that led Baena to request protection from the authorities.
Following the impact of this tragedy, various institutions, politicians, activists and society as a whole have come out to express their sorrow, demand justice and recognise Baena’s legacy in the struggle for inclusion and human rights in respect of the LGBTQI+ community.
A response from Mexican society was not long in coming, demonstrations, rallies and vigils in different cities across the country evidenced the clamour for an exhaustive, transparent and impartial investigation that would clarify this crime and that would not rule out hate and discrimination as the fundamental motives.
The struggle for equality and justice continues in Mexico, where the legacy of Jesús Ociel Baena remains both a beacon of hope and highlights to urgent call to action for equality and respect for sexual and gender diversity.
The Magistrade was characterized by wearing different types of clothing that represented his non-binary identity, being an example for the entire Latin American LGBTQI+ community, a brave person who despite the environment in which he lived never hid his gender identity. He had the courage to highlight the LGBTQI+ community in an attempt to trigger a cultural transition. The sad circumstances of their deaths have made Ociel Baena and his partner have become part of the image of the struggle, not only for Mexico but also for the rest of the Latin countries.
Hate crime should not go unpunished and although it is a complex challenge, education, the culture of legality, citizen participation and the media are important factors of change for social improvement and development.
Each one of us, from our trenches, has the moral and social duty to fight for justice and equality, continuously learning from others, being the voice of those who have suffered injustice and are tired of fighting alone, because only as a whole society can we generate real cultural, political and economic changes in each of the regions.
The prevention, attention, awareness and punishment of gender violence and hate crimes against various groups are elements that will undoubtedly increase confidence in the institutions and competent authorities.
In Gay Lawyers we protect and ensure that human rights are guaranteed, always carrying equity, diversity, and inclusion of everyone as a flag and representation of our cause.
Cynthia Cortés Castillo, Digital Marketing Executive