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Central America

Gay man stabbed to death in Belize, family says it’s a ‘hate crime’

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

BELIZE CITY, Belize — A gay man was stabbed to death and dumped on the side of a street in Belize City early Sunday morning, and family members are calling it a “hate crime.”

Joseph Jatnel Sanchez

Joseph Jatnel Sanchez

When police initially found the body with a chest wound around 1:50 a.m., they thought the victim was a woman, as he was dressed in a white sleeveless blouse and a short green and black skirt.

Only later was the victim identified as 18-year-old Joseph Jatnel Sanchez, a gay man who was well known locally to dress in female attire.

Police say their initial investigations revealed that Sanchez was walking alone when two men approached and tried to rob him.

The robbers stabbed Sanchez with a butcher knife before fleeing, police said. Sanchez was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Sanchez’s family is disputing the police’s theory, and claim Sanchez is a victim of a hate crime and that he was frequently harassed and threatened because he often dressed in women’s clothing.

In an interview with Amandala, family members said that police “theory does not hold water because his cell phone and money were not stolen.”

The victim’s mother, Virginia Thomasa Arzu, said Sanchez got a phone call an hour before he ventured out, from a man her son knew, and suspects her son was lured to an ambush.

Leading human rights attorney Lisa M. Shoman said Sanchez rarely ventured out of his home except for work, out of fear from constant death threats due to his attire.

“Belize has one of the highest rates of violent crime per capita, but this was not ‘mere’ robbery, except in the sense that he was robbed of his life,” said Shoman.

“A young person was killed and his identity clearly played a role,” she said.

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46 more reader comments:

  1. AJ Heusner FYI

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:14pm
  2. Damn right it is

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:16pm
  3. -.-

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:16pm
  4. Oh my god ,Why ?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:16pm
  5. You know I feel sorry for that man and his family and friends nut when are people going to stop calling it a hate crime…very rarely does anyone get stabbed to death out of love. You murder someone because you hate: that person, their beliefs, their way of life…whatever. the crime should be investigated and punished as a crime- murder is murder. Keep separating these senseless crimes as one is more worse than the other and providing justice for them starts getting hazy… just saying.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:18pm
  6. Disagree. If the act was random and the individual was targeted for a class that he belongs to (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity), then it was a hate crime against the entire class which he represented. That is very different than an individual who is victimized for personal reasons specific to them. The difference between a "hate crime" and a regular crime is the message it sends. For instance, there is a difference between buring a cross on the lawn of an African American family and merely, randomly setting fire to a couple of logs at a random persons home, the former being a hate crime, the latter being a property crime. Finally, research Belize. You will find that it is the single most homophobic country in the Western Hemisphere. It isn't quite Uganda...but it is close.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:51pm
  7. When a violent crime is committed specifically because of the way a person is, it is a hate crime. If there is no evidence that the crime was committed because of a person's being, then it follows standard criminal judgment. Causing a crime because of hatred of a person's being is a separate crime, and added to the original criminal act(s).

    Replied on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:51pm
  8. If gays weren't looked at as "different" we wouldn't have to call it a "hate crime"…. It is A CRIME!

    Replied on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:13pm
  9. =[

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:18pm
  10. So sad

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:23pm
  11. I hate seeing these sad stories all the time and I’d like to unlike this page but people need to be aware

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:24pm
  12. Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:28pm
  13. When will this nightmare of hate crimes in foreign countries happening to our LGBTI brothers & sisters end?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:29pm
  14. Good lord people!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:29pm
  15. Belize is a very hostile country to gays. Don’t go there.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:31pm
  16. Very sad and so wrong!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:33pm
  17. So sad

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:34pm
  18. My heart goes out to him and his family. When will these hate crimes stop?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:40pm
  19. SADDD!!!!!! By doing this do they get justice?????

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:40pm
  20. :( why? damn it why?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:46pm
  21. Heartbreaking

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:03pm
  22. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:04pm
  23. My country needs to wake up and let go of the buggery laws inherited from the British Colonials. The Belizean LGBT organization UNIBAM has been bringing these issues to the Belizean populace but hate groups with better funding have been bombarding the Belizean airwaves with their messages. I am sorry that this young Transgender had to loose his life but maybe his death will wake my people up. Praying for his family and my country.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:09pm
  24. Tragic.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:18pm
  25. Sad

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:56pm
  26. How about I stab every fucking Homophobe to death? If I could, I’d shit on every Homophobic persons grave.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10:08pm
  27. Not a thing to like.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10:08pm
  28. Straight or Gay, don’t go to Belize City. It is very dangerous. Our cruise stopped there and 9 people in a matter of two hours had be mugged and we had to have a policeman escort us back to the wharf.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10:18pm
  29. karma will find the people responsible…….rest in peace<3

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10:31pm
  30. Oh no. So sorry!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:03pm
  31. ‘ ( <3

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:13pm
  32. Sad. Hate is still rampant in this world.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:43pm
  33. Of course it is!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:51pm
  34. Long before Barrack Obama entered politics, long before anti-semitism and antiliberalism had become battle cries for the Religious Right and Tea-Party followers and the Patriots etc, the American Government’s experiment in democracy and social tolerance was steadily undermined by distrust, injustice, and violence. One is almost tempted to say that the President of the United States, the Supreme Court as well as Congress itself did not bring America down; they merely saved it from suicide, by murdering it themselves. It was bankrupt long before the Christian Right appointed themselves as America’s savior against children, adults and eldely who demand as GLBT, equality under the laws of this country.” NOW read and be educated what the Nazis did to GLBT in Richard Plant’s book The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against homosexuals.

    And tell me that the amended quote from page 23, isn’t just EXACTLY what the Christian Right wants to do to GLBT. They want to annihilate GLBT, by genetics, incarcerations, criminalizing us, and maiming/murdering us. GENOCIDE!! This is their God’s Love? No this is their agenda! They can’t do it here in America (yet) but they have exported their Fear and Hate to Russia, to Nigeria etc.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:58pm
  35. American evangelical scum are fanning the flames of homophobia throughout Latin America. The U.S. government must investigate christian fundamentalist filth and their illegal involvement in promoting anti-LGBT activity overseas.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:00am
  36. Awful

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:17am
  37. So so sad!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:53am
  38. D: T-T so..so sad

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 1:17am
  39. So much hate!! We all should be Buddhist & understand what was taught five thousands years ago. We’re all the same! People = people

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 1:25am
  40. It is and a horrible one.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 1:26am
  41. Justice must prevail for this man. Belize needs to work for justice and arrest these thugs. Throw away the key to their cells.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 1:40am
  42. of course it is a hate crime…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:32am
  43. So sad!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:53am
  44. Oh my god,it´s been the same in most parts of the planet,lucky are those who can live in safe areas,sigh.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:26am
  45. Kenny Please be careful down there.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:05am
  46. THIS NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:22am