“I think that someone is coming to kill me,” said Teresa, a shopkeeper in the coastal town of San Juan Talpa. “I live in constant fear.”Three transgender people were killed in San Juan Talpa in February alone, police say, spreading fear through members of El Salvador’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
The spate of murders puts a spotlight on the violence El Salvador’s LGBT community faces, a problem rights activists blame on powerful street gangs and entrenched social prejudices.
Until recently, the LGBT community in San Luis Talpa, a town surrounded by fertile green hills an hour’s drive from the capital San Salvador, had a softball team that used to play near the beach. But they have since stopped in fear they could be next in the firing line.
The town’s latest victim was Elizabeth Castillo, a transgender woman, who police say was kidnapped in February after attending the funeral of two transgender women. Her body, showing signs of torture, was then found dumped on the roadside.
So far, no one has been arrested.”The gangs don’t accept lesbians, gay boys or transgender people. Diversity doesn’t fit into their rules,” said Teresa, who did not want to give her full name.