Published15 hours ago
Mexico’s first openly non-binary member of the judiciary and prominent LGBTQ+ activist Jesús Ociel Baena has been found dead at their home.
The body of the magistrate was discovered on Monday in the central city of Aguascalientes, alongside that of a second person.
Local media identified the second person as Baena’s partner.
Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez said it was unclear “if it was a homicide or… some kind of accident”.
According to a statement from the state attorney-general’s office, there was no sign that a third person had entered the house.
They said that a sharp object had been found and that preliminary findings suggested the incident could have been a personal matter.
The LGBTQ+ rights group Letra S has urged local authorities to investigate the deaths thoroughly and without prejudice.
Alejandro Brito, the group’s director, said that Baena, who used they/them pronouns, had received “many hate messages, and even threats of violence and death”, the Associated Press reported.
Brito added that Baena had been “breaking through the invisible barriers that closed in the nonbinary community”.
The 38-year-old became a magistrate for the Aguascalientes state electoral court in October 2022 and was thought to be the first non-binary person in Latin America to take up a judicial position.
In June, they were among the first group of people to be issued gender-neutral passports.
“I am a non-binary person, I am not interested in seeing myself as a woman or a man,” Baena wrote on X, formerly Twitter, the same month.
“This is an identity, it is mine and for me, for no one else.”
A vigil was held for Baena by other LGBTQ+ activists in the capital, Mexico City, on Monday evening.
“We are heirs to a struggle that Ociel inherited from us,” one person told Reuters news agency.
“We must not let Ociel’s death pass in vain and we must carry on the legacy Ociel left us.”
The former chief justice of Mexico’s Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldivar, wrote on social media that he deeply regretted the magistrate’s death.
“We lost a strong voice for equality and the rights of LGBTI+ people,” he said.