El Salvador: IGLHRC To March on Salvadorian Consulate in San Francisco

Police Protection for GLBT People Sought

For Immediate Release: January 26, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO - The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has called on its members and those interested in the defense and advancement of human rights to join them in a picket of the Consulate of El Salvador.

IGLHRC has issued a demand to the government of El Salvador that it immediately extend police protection to all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people in El Salvador and specifically to Entre Amigos, a GLBT organization targeted with death threats and murder. The police have deliberately withheld protection despite meetings with Entre Amigos and the very real, clear, and present danger.

"It is the obvious and incontestable obligation of any government to protect and advance the human rights of all of its citizens," said Jaime Balboa, IGLHRC's director of public education. "To deliberately fail to do so is to deliberately turn their backs on civil society" he continued.

In 1998, there were eleven confirmed murders of gay and lesbian people in El Salvador. In 1999, there were seven confirmed murders of gay and lesbian people in El Salvador. In 2000, there has already been one confirmed murder of a gay man in El Salvador. All of the victims received death threats prior to their murder. The Salvadorian police have refused to extend protection to the victims, explicitly stating the sexual orientation of the victims as the reason.

The Salvadorian police have also been reluctant to meet with Entre Amigos, despite the death threats and rash of killings. But following an intense local and international campaign, the Chief of the PNC (National Civil Police) in San Salvador, El Salvador, finally agreed to meet with William Hernandez, director of Entre Amigos, and other activists from Entre Amigos. Hernandez himself has been subjected to death threats in recent months. The meetings were held to discuss the terms of the protection to be granted to them according to the PPI (Protection of Important People) system currently in force in El Salvador. PPI is a system for the protection of civil society leaders and other public figures facing death threats.

The Salvadoran police admit that Hernandez and Entre Amigos qualify for protection under the PPI system due to the repeated attacks and threats they have been subjected to during the last months. Nevertheless, the Chief of the PNC refused to appoint any officers to such task on the argument that, since the officers "do not share the sexual tastes" of those they should protect, they would feel uncomfortable doing their work.