It was a lesbicide – Justice for Pamela, Mercedes, Andrea, and Sofia

It was a lesbicide – Justice for Pamela, Mercedes, Andrea, and Sofia 

On the 5th of May 2024, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, three lesbians were murdered and one was severely injured in a lesbophobic attack by their neighbor. The man threw a homemade flammable liquid into the room the four of them were sharing, resulting in an explosion and fire. He then proceeded to attack the lesbians further to prevent them from leaving the burning room. Pamela Cobbas (52), Mercedes Roxana Figuroa (52) and Andrea Amarante (42) all died the week following the attack. The fourth victim, Sofia Castro Riglos (49) currently remains hospitalized and is, at this time, thankfully, out of danger. 

Prior to the attack, the perpetrator had threatened the four lesbians multiple times. However, the local Police is currently refusing to take into account the previous threats in the investigation of this murder. 

“They were set on fire for being lesbians. They were set on fire for being poor lesbians. They were set on fire for being poor lesbians creating a community 

– Barracas Lesbian Assembly, Argentina

Pamela, Mercedes and Andreea were murdered in a lesbicide. Sofia has been left without her chosen family due to lesbophobia. Nonetheless, during a press conference, presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni declined to label the attack as a hate crime. Meanwhile, Argentinian President Javier Milei took to Instagram to dismiss criticism both of the refusal to recognize the attack as a hate crime and of his role in spreading anti-LGBTIQ+ rhetoric. The politics of hate and dehumanization which allow lesbophobia to take root and mature into lesbicide are commonplace in the far-right’s speech and actions targeting lesbians and the wider LGBTIQ+ community. 

Argentina’s situation has become increasingly radicalized under the Milei’s rule. Currently, there is no state system available for individuals to seek protection in cases of discrimination and hate crimes. Institutions that operated for years before the new administration have been closed, resulting in thousands of job losses. According to the LesLac – the South American and Carribean Network of Lesbians and Bisexual Women, sexual orientation and gender identity have become a blatant basis for discrimination. Additionally, international mechanisms have proven largely ineffective in addressing these issues in Argentina. 

Milei’s government’s declarations dismissing lesbicide in Argentina echo Meloni’s government action against lesbian mothers in Italy as well as Orban’s government actions of censoring lesbian literature in Hungary.

– Silvia Casalino, EL*C Executive Director and Italian lesbian activist

According to EL*C’s Observatory on Lesbophobia 2019-2022, in 55% of the lesbophobic cases reported to the police in Europe, prosecution is rendered impossible by the legal system in place. The far-right has made lesbians the practice ground of their hate politics against the LGBTIQ+ community, women, migrants and refugees, the poor population. 

EL*C strongly condemns the refusal to categorize this lesbophobic attack as a hate crime. The lack of recognition of the intersectional nature of this hate crime based on gender, sexual orientation and class is deeply troubling. These acts of refusal and dismissal perpetuate a dangerous environment for the lesbian and wider LGBTIQ+ community. The far-right’s actions and rhetoric undermine the fair pursuit of justice for Pamela, Mercedes, Andrea and Sofia. 

Furthermore, EL*C is concerned with the radio silence on this horrific lesbophobic attack in the non-Spanish speaking media. The recently released EL*C Observatory on Lesbophobia 2023 points out that the media frequently neglects to cover lesbian-related matters, leading to a diminished presence of lesbians in press coverage, which can have detrimental consequences. As we’ve seen in the cases of Italy, Hungary and now Argentina, unaddressed lesbophobic rhetoric leads to injustice, discrimination and murder. 

Support Argentinian lesbian activists – share information about this lesbophobic attack and name it for what it is: a lesbicide. Invite Argentinian lesbian activists to speak about this case and be able to demand justice against lesbophobia and the far-right’s actions damaging the lesbian community.  

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