December 17, 2014 – Reported by the Tico Times – Facing violence and criminal impunity in their countries of origin, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have become the latest face of Central American displacement, and they have turned to Costa Rica for refuge.
On Monday morning, activists presented lawmaker and legislative Human Rights Commission Secretary Epsy Campbell with a white paper chronicling the stories of LGBT victims of violence to raise awareness about Costa Rica’s policy of accepting hate-crime refugees.
Representatives from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador spoke about their experiences in their home countries, including Dennis Castillo, a Honduran refugee who has been living in Costa Rica for 26 months. After the killing of his friend from a local LGBT activist organization, CEPRES, more than two years ago in San Pedro Sula, Castillo and his friends demanded that police investigate the crime, which they insisted was gang-related. After attempts to motivate police fell on deaf ears, Castillo began to receive death threats that eventually drove him to Costa Rica. Nine months later, Castillo was granted one of the first LGBT refugee statuses ever in Costa Rica.
“It’s a kind of torture to have to give up your life’s work, your family, and migrate to another country,”Castillo told The Tico Times in a previous interview.
Ziolamérica Ortega, stepdaughter of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and regional consultant for the human rights organization Casa Abierta, said that chronic violence faced by the LGBT community in Central America went beyond the everyday violence that has come to typify the Northern Triangle, which has some of the highest homicide rates in the world. The human rights activist accused Central American governments of being unable or unwilling to protect their LGBT citizens…