The brutal torture and murder of a transgender sex-worker by 14 boys in Portugal, and the failure of the Portuguese government to bring the perpetrators to justice has outraged transgender communities around the world, and New Zealand's trans community is calling on sympathetic New Zealanders to join with them in protest outside the Portuguese Consulate in Wellington tomorrow. Gisberta, a homeless, HIV positive transsexual Brazilian immigrant was found dead on February 22 this year in a 10 metre-deep pit at a building site in Porto, Portugal's second largest city. Fourteen boys from a local Catholic child protection institution, confessed to her torture and murder. The boys found Gisberta in the abandoned building she used for shelter, tied her up, gagged her and beat her with sticks and stones. They also raped her with sticks and inflicted cigarette burns to her body. They returned over a three-day period to repeat the atrocities, before finally throwing her in a watery pit in an attempt to hide their crime. It is thought Gisberta was still alive after the abuse and the ten-metre fall, as her body was found submerged, rather than floating, suggesting she died by drowning. On the whole, the Portuguese media refused to refer to the assault and murder as a 'hate crime', instead focusing on the ‘shock' that the perpetrators could be so young. With the exception of a few politicians that expressed their personal opinion, no political party gave any reaction nor condemned the crime. With the exception of the one 16-year-old boy who has been held in preventative detention, the remaining youths were granted suspended sentences and were returned to their institution with no further consequences. The Portuguese government have restricted their investigation into the conditions under which the boys were cared for by the Catholic institution. Portuguese embassies and consulates around the world will be picketed tomorrow, in protest of the dismissive attitude the Portuguese government have held toward this hate crime. "This hate crime requires international protest," says Claudia McKay, president of New Zealand's transgender organisation, Agender. "Not only because of the horrendous assault on Gisberta, but also for the lack of action from the courts and the Portuguese government." "In effect, the judge's decision to suspend sentences for the responsible youths gave carte blanche to anyone wanting to kill a trans person in Portugal." Transphobia and hate crimes against transgender people is rife around the world, says McKay, and "as trans people in a more considerate society we have a duty to highlight this horrendous crime and to support our international community." McKay has prepared a letter of protest to the Portuguese government, which she will deliver to the Portuguese Consul in Wellington tomorrow. The protest will be held outside the Portuguese Consulate at 41-47 Dixon Street, from 12.30pm. For enquiries phone 0274 575 094.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 7th June 2006 - 12:00pm
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