October 14, 2015 / 9:54 PM / 2 years ago

Outcry over the killing of three transgender women in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A well-known Argentine activist for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people (LGBTI) was found dead in her Buenos Aires apartment on Tuesday, the third transgender woman to have died violently in the country over the last month.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday that the body of Diana Sacayan showed signs of violence. President Cristina Fernandez, who in 2012 personally gave Sacayan her national identity card recognizing her as a woman, joined Amnesty in calling for justice.

"I ask the national security services and the metropolitan police to solve this horrible crime," Fernandez said during a public address.

Argentina is one of the few countries that allow people to change their gender on official identification documents. Latin American countries have some of the world's highest murder rates for transgender people, according to rights groups. For link to graphic, click on: link.reuters.com/vag85w

Sacayan's death followed the killings of Marcela Chocobar and Coty Olmos, two transgender women whose bodies were found over the last month in the provinces of Santa Fe and Santa Cruz.

"A dark cloud has set over Argentina's trans community," said Mariela Belski, Executive Director of Amnesty International Argentina. "Unless this latest wave of murders is effectively investigated and those responsible taken to justice, a message will be sent that attacking trans women is actually ok."

Dozens of people held a vigil outside Argentina's Supreme Court building in solidarity with the victims. Social media lit up with messages of support for the community.

"We are obligated to find out what happened to Diana Sacayan, and to continue to advocate her ideas," said one Tweet.

According to Transgender Europe, which advocates for transgender people worldwide, Latin America accounted for 78 percent of the 1,731 murders of transgender and gender-diverse people reported worldwide between January 2008 and December 2014.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Andrew Hay

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