July 16, 2017 at 7:04 pm PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Prominent Honduran activist brutally attacked inside his home

David Valle, gay news, Washington Blade

David Valle is a prominent Honduran LGBT rights advocate who was attacked in his home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on July 10, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Alex Sorto/Somos CDC)

A prominent Honduran LGBTI rights advocate was brutally attacked inside his home on Monday

Criterio, a Honduran newspaper, reported a man rang the doorbell of David Valle’s home in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa at around 10 p.m. local time.

Valle, who is with the Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation, an advocacy group known by the acronym SOMOS-CDC, opened the door and the man immediately smashed his head against a wall.

Criterio reported Valle tried to use his feet to shut the door.

The man who attacked Valle chased him through his home with a “knife-like weapon.” Criterio reported the man beat Valle for more than 10 minutes before he left with his cell phone and the keys to his home and car.

Valle’s roommate found him roughly three hours later when he arrived home.

Personnel at the Honduran Institute of Social Security — a government agency that provides health care — treated Valle before his transfer to a private hospital on Tuesday.

Honduran advocates with whom the Los Angeles Blade spoke this week said Valle suffered serious injuries to his head and other parts of his body and required dozens of stitches. They said he was brought to a safe house after the hospital discharged him.

“He fought for his life,” SOMOS-CDC Executive Director Alex Sorto told the Blade on Thursday during a WhatsApp interview from Tegucigalpa.

Valle was expected to attend a meeting of Honduran LGBTI advocacy groups in the city of San Pedro Sula on Monday that the U.S. Agency for International Development has organized.

Valle, who ran for office in 2011, has participated in Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute-sponsored meetings and conferences in Honduras, the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. SOMOS-CDC has also received funding from a European Union program that seeks to bolster Honduras’ judicial system and improve access to it.

The Blade has reached out to U.S. officials for comment on the attack against Valle.

Honduran LGBTI, human rights advocates frequently targeted

Violence against LGBTI and human rights advocates remains commonplace in Honduras, which has one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates.

René Martínez, a prominent activist from San Pedro Sula who was a member of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s ruling National Party, was strangled to death in June 2016.

The body of Sherlyn Montoya, a volunteer for Grupo de Mujeres Transexuales (Muñecas Arcoíris), a transgender advocacy group, was found in an alley in a Tegucigalpa neighborhood on April 4.

Paola Barraza, Erick Martínez Ávila and Walter Tróchez are among the other LGBT and intersex rights advocates who have been killed since the 2009 coup that toppled then-President Manuel Zelaya. The 2016 murder of Berta Cácares, a prominent environmental and indigenous rights advocate, sparked outrage across Honduras and around the world.

Honduras, gay news, Washington Blade

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Feb. 9, 2017. The Central American country has one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The motive behind the attack against Valle remains unclear, but he and Sorto on April 27 petitioned Honduran authorities to provide them with protection because their advocacy efforts had prompted threats. Sorto told the Blade on Thursday that he and Valle only received “some response” in order to “keep our mouths shut or to satisfy us.”

The Honduran National Police has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

“Honduran human rights advocates are on the frontlines risking their lives to fight for equality and better the lives of fellow citizens,” Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute Director of International Programs Luis Abolafia Anguita told the Blade on Friday in a statement. “Honduras has already lost too many to violence — including Berta Cáceres in her fight for the environment and indigenous rights, and Rene Martínez in his fight for LGBTQ equality.”

“This vicious attack on David is a reminder of the courage of these activists, and it is essential the government step-up its efforts to protect human rights activists exercising their democratic rights,” he added. “We will continue working with our partners on-the-ground to increase LGBTQ political participation, so that our community has a voice at the table and can work to end the intolerance and violence LGBTQ Hondurans regularly face.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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