It’s well-known and documented that LGBTQIA+ people face higher rates of violence than non-LGBTQIA+ people, and that’s a fact worldwide. In a 2022 study conducted by UCLA, it was found that LGBTQIA+ people are nine times more likely to be the victims of a violent hate crime, which could mean anything from hate speech to an assault to murder. In Mexico alone, there were 305 reported hate crimes against sexual minorities from 2019 to 2022, according to The National Observatory of Hate Crimes Against LGBTI+ Persons. This month on November 13, many in Mexico was shaken by the sudden death of 38-year-old Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo, the country’s first out nonbinary judge who was found dead in their Aguascalientes home with knife wounds in their body. Their partner Dorian Daniel Nieves Herrera was also found dead at the scene with similar wounds. In the days since, the prosecutor’s office has suggested that Herrera may have murdered Saucedo before committing suicide as they found no evidence of a third person at the scene. This was immediately met with waves of protest, including by both their families and friends, and has led to thousands taking to the streets of Mexico City to demand justice for Saucedo and other victims of anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crimes, the Associated Press reported.
“[The version provided by the Prosecutor’s Office] shows a lack of respect to our intelligence,” said Saucedo’s father Juan Baena, according to El Pais. “What they’re [saying] isn’t true — it would be a disgrace to allow the justice system to issue a judgment that isn’t correct and that I believe the majority of people don’t believe. I hope that, one day, my son — wherever he is — will see that the results of his fight were not in vain.”
As an activist and judge, Saucedo was known for their activism and lobbying for LGBTQIA+ protections in the highest levels of Mexico’s government. Just this year alone, they were able to obtain a re-issue of their birth certificate where their gender was marked as nonbinary, receive the country’s first nonbinary passport, and were presented with a certificate from the Aguascalientes electoral court addressing them with the gender-neutral title of “maestre.” In all of their work, they had been setting a historical, never-before-seen precedent for nonbinary people in Mexico and undoubtedly had much more work planned in the years ahead, which is what makes their death particularly devastating.
According to local and federal prosecutors, however, the case, like many others concerning anti-LGBTQIA+ violence, is currently being considered a “crime of passion.” Prosecutors found no evidence of a third person on the security cameras or at the scene. Saucedo was also found with the weapon in their hand and Herrera reportedly had methamphetamines in their system. However, friends and LGBTQIA+ activists have raised issue with the theory, accusing authorities of anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice and covering up the truth behind the crime. Many have noted that Saucedo had been the victim of death threats and hate messages on social media as a public figure for months and had even requested a state trooper to act as their bodyguard at their home and at public events – who wasn’t there at the time of the murder – after fellow LGBTQIA+ activist Ulises Nava was shot and killed in July. Protestors and activists are fighting for the case to be recognized as a hate crime and for the state to take responsibility for not protecting Saucedo as one of the most visible nonbinary people in the country with a platform that empowered historically ignored minorities.
“We LGBTQ+ people have been sold the idea that we cannot express ourselves as we are, from our jokes or mannerisms, from the formality of what should be and say, from what is politically correct. I am a disruptive person from the beginning, because what I seek is to break the mold, break the paradigm and that is my way of being and expressing myself,” Saucedo said in their last public appearance, according to El Universal Oaxaca.
The investigation is currently ongoing.