The Obama administration on Thursday
condemned the murder of Joseph Sanchez, an 18-year-old transgender
teen from Belize.
“The Department of State condemns the
brutal killing of transgender teenager Joseph Sanchez in Belize on
January 12,” spokesperson Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement.
“We send our condolences to Joseph's friends and family and the
entire LGBT community in Belize.”
“No one should be subjected to
violence because of who they are or who they love,” Psaki added.
Sanchez was reportedly stabbed to death
just before 2 AM on Sunday. Video surveillance of the incident shows
that Sanchez was approached by two men as he made his way to a party
dressed in a skirt. The men frisked Sanchez; one stabbed him in the
chest before they both fled.
Belize City police believe the motive
was armed robbery.
“This investigation reveals that this
person was walking on Elston Kerr Street when he was attacked by two
persons,” Acting Commander Calbert Flowers told Channel 5. “The
investigation reveals that these two male persons that attacked this
person tried to rob him. During that robbery a struggle ensued and
this person was stabbed once to the chest. The investigation is
ongoing and we have what we think is enough evidence to show that it
was an attempted robbery.”
Sanchez's family said that the teen had
been harassed for years and that he received death threats from a
former lover in the days leading up to his murder.
Caleb Orosco, executive director of
UNIBAM, called Sanchez's murder a hate crime.
“The police is under no obligation to
report that it was a hate crime,” Orosco said. “The issue for us
here is that the act itself is hateful because it robbed the life of
a young person who had dreams and aspirations and it robbed a mother
of a child that she gave life to. More precisely, it robs the
community of a sense of security. And it is within that context we
define it as a hate crime.”
(A video report is embedded on this
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