An interview with Indyra Mendoza

The COVID-19 pandemic is advancing in Honduras. According to official data, there are 3,950 confirmed cases and 180 deaths. Cortés (San Pedro Sula) and Francisco Morazán (Tegucigalpa) are the worst hit departments, with 84% of the cases and 87% of the victims.

Honduras, under a state of emergency since March 16, has extended the quarantine until May 31, but everything indicates that the authorities may once again extend the term.

If the more than two months of lockdown have exposed and deepened the inequalities that already existed in Honduran society, the pandemic has been fertile ground for the immolation of new victims of discrimination and hatred. “Quarantine and social distancing have negatively impacted the lives of both LGBTI people and heterosexuals,” said Indyra Mendoza, coordinator of the Red Lésbica Cattrachas (Cattrachas Lesbian Network).

“If a maquila worker loses her job, the blow is strong and her situation becomes critical regardless of her sexual orientation and gender identity.”

While it is true that the pandemic reduced the intensity of the stigmatization and discrimination campaign against LGBTI people, Mendoza warned of new victims of that same hatred.

“Religious fundamentalism, with the support of the mass media, has been sowing hatred in society. The result is that 356 LGBTI people have been killed in the past decade. Now we see with great concern how that same hatred is being directed towards people who have contracted the coronavirus and towards health personnel,” Mendoza explained.

“In Honduras a true Covid phobia has been unleashed,” she summarized.

According to national media monitoring, there are already dozens of cases of bullying and harassment against sick people and their families. The same is happening with health workers.

Setback of decades

The Cattrachas coordinator said that the situation is increasingly worrying.

“We seem to have gone back several decades, to the times of HIV-related stigma. So we decided to launch an educational campaign. LGBTI people, who are confronted on a daily basis to the contempt fostered by religious fundamentalism and expanded by the media, we cannot remain passive,” she said.

After the launch of the campaign on social media, some 30,000 people expressed some form of rejection of Covid phobia.

“It is positive, but we need to go much further. Most of these people reject discrimination against those affected by the coronavirus, but they have never spoken out against hatred towards LGBTI people,” Mendoza continued.

“Our campaign must lead people to reflect and understand that all forms of hatred, discrimination and stigmatization are bad and can kill. This is why we need to fight back.”

Please find here the original news story in Spanish.

Religious fundamentalism, with the support of the mass media, has been sowing hatred in society. The result is that 356 LGBTI people have been killed in the past decade. Now we see with great concern how that same hatred is being directed towards people who have contracted the coronavirus and towards health personnel
Indyra Mendoza
Published: 29/05/2020