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Fighting for LGBTQI+ rights in Honduras

17 September 2021

"This is a way for me to raise my voice and to be heard," said Daniel Chirinos, a 26-year-old Honduran who is also known as Chidanna, a transgender activist and drag queen.

Chirinos considers Chidanna as his brave persona who gives him the confidence to be more outgoing and confident. Chidanna is promoting awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of LGBTQI+ people, Chirinos added.

"The Chidanna character is a voice that can be heard and to show that the LGBTQI+ community are people who can fight for our dreams and make them come true,” he said. “It is a way to be able to be heard internationally and know that we also need that support."

This is why Chirinos as Chidanna teamed up with UN Human Rights to participate in Free & Equal  — a global campaign that promotes equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTQI+ people. He hopes that it will raise awareness and offer support to his community.

When Chirinos was a child, he did not have this support.  

"I suffered a lot of bullying and discrimination from classmates and teachers," he said. "I always knew that I was very different from other boys since, well, not only because of my sexual orientation, of course, but because always my tastes were different from other boys. While the boys liked soccer, I preferred music, art, beauty and makeup."

Chirinos also said he suffered discrimination at home when his mother could not accept him due to her conservative religious beliefs.

"I needed to carry the message to my mother that just being gay does not make you a bad person," she said."We have virtues and dreams. So, that was my fight. Being able to educate my family so that they would realize that being genuine, being what you are, is not bad"

For Chirinos, gaining confidence in who he was began at the age of 15 when he joinedthe Rainbow Association of Honduras, an organization that assists LGBTQI+ people. This is where he learned about love and coexistence between people of the same sexual orientation. It was there Chirinos saw friends of the organization losing their lives just for being part of the LGBTQI+ community.

"My classmates and friends of the collective lost their lives in a violent way for no reason, just for being part of our movement,” he said. “And that is where the need to be a defender and promoter of human rights in my community was born in me."

Advocating for his community

Over the last 11 years, Chirinos has been tirelessly fighting for his LGBTQI+ community as an activist for the Rainbow Association of Honduras and as a health promoter for another nonprofit, the Kukulkan Association.

The young activist added that since homosexuality is not broadly accepted in Honduras, most families will disown their children and force them to leave school. The lack of education and resources results in homelessness for many, he explained.

"We come to understand that we are homosexual people and at home the first thing they do is throw us out, throw us like dogs,” he said. “It makes it easier when we are out there in the street, where we are exposed, to be killed. Well, we have also lost many friends within our group because they had no opportunity, and the only opportunity was the street."

Chirinos is educating young LGBTQI+ people on their rights, so they feel empowered to advocate for themselves. While many LGBTQI+ youth find themselves without having access to jobs, an education, or financial support, Chrinos stressed the importance of providing skill-based learning to help them procure employment.

He is also currently advocating, with the Rainbow Association of Honduras, for a gender identity law to protect transgender girls, which he considers to be the most vulnerable group.

"My dream is to be able to inspire and empower my LGBTQI+ community to defend their rights and letting society know that we are human beings with a lot of talent and energy to be able to change the world. To help yourself, is also to help others" he said.

17 September 2021

This story is part of Human Rights Champions – a recurring series featuring portraits of human rights defenders or organizations that stand up for human rights.

Disclaimer: The views, information and opinions expressed in this article are those of the persons featured in the story and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.