It was the year 2001 when the Honduras-born Patricio Vindel started getting involved in the defence of the rights of the collective LGTBI+. He then worked for the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO). The experience granted him the opportunity of approaching the prevention of HIV and the defence of the human rights of minorities.
Over a decade later, when he was already the executive director of OPRODUCE (Organización Pro-Unión Ceibeña), he received serious threats that forced him into leaving his country. OPRODUCE is an entity located at the north of Honduras that was born at the end of the 90s to give support and defend the LGTBI+ rights. As Patricio explained a couple of years ago, his problems concerning safety arose when he started defending the rights of transgender women, a group he considers especially vulnerable.
Between August and November 2012, he received several threatening text messages, in which reference to his sexual orientation was explicitly made. On the 22nd January 2013, when the OPRODUCE staff was out of the office, unknown people irrupted in the facilities and painted a death threatening message for Patricio in the wall.
That year, the activist moved to Barcelona, and shortly after, in 2014, he was given the status of refugee. Currently, he works in customer help at the airport. He regrets having to leave activism in a secondary role, but that does not imply an abandonment of his commitment with the LGTBI+ rights. “Every time I have the chance, I keep getting involved and making my contribution to this task”, he states.
What would you highlight from your work in Honduras in defence of Human Rights?
The closeness and the awareness raising with members of the local police and political class in the city. Meeting with them, we got our organisation recognised and its task received political support, with their active participation in citizen development projects.
What changed for LGBT+ people after the coup d’etat in 2009?
The advances we had obtained so far were reduced to nothing. The political strategy left our negotiations about participation and inclusion in decision-making aside. The church opposed us firmly, which was one of the main triggers of the backlash we experienced. Similarly, a “hunt” started against the agents of change and many activists from our community were murdered.
Which are the main demands of the LGBT+ community in Honduras?
Regaining presence in the political agenda, getting to participate in the decision making at regional and national levels, gain juridical recognition so our work is not limited by the constraints that invisibilise our actions.
The Honduran LGBT+ community also demands a gender identity bill.
It’s necessary. Internally, it would help the community to develop in a healthier way and abandon practices of risk linked to their clandestine situation. Externally, it would contribute to ensure respect to our rights as citizens.
How did you experience your arrival in Barcelona, in 2013?
I left Honduras abruptly. It was a matter of priorities, because my live was at risk. Arriving in Barcelona gave me the chance to find balance and support. It was tough, as any adaptation process, but unlike others I the State responded promptly to my asylum claim, which helped me to settle.
OPROUCE demobilised after the attacks in 2013. Which is the current situation of the organisation?
The aggressions forced everybody involved to lay low and to abandon activities not to expose our volunteering. At that time, everything was risky for everybody in the community.
Some actions have been resumed; activism should never be stopped if there’s a minimum of assurance. The members of the board decided to reactivate the community in the city of La Ceiba and, in this way, continue their information work, their defence of rights and raising awareness among the general public. They are supported by a corps of volunteers that are faithful to our mission as institution. Still, one must say that it’s really hard work because our government has very little negotiating skills for our community at the national level.