Transgender Cruise to Roatan: What About Lele?

This morning I read an article in Travel Agent Central about a cruise in December aboard the Navigator of the Seas which is being advertised for transgender travelers.

Out Traveler first reported about what is being called the first ever cruise for "trans travelers." Out Traveler explains that Transgender Vacations organized the cruise so that 'both transgender individuals as well as those who crossdress (but don’t necessarily identify as trans) can take a vacation and be themselves . . . for us to feel comfortable with who we are.'" 

Transgender CruiseAt first blush, I thought what a great idea. But then I looked at the itinerary and cringed. The first port of call was Roatan, Honduras. 

I have written a series of articles about the high crime rate in Roatan. There's a tendency in the local tourism industry to gloss over the armed robberies and murders there and falsely characterize the Honduran island as "paradise."

A concerned expatriate living in Roatan told me about the vicious death of a transgender mute, named Lele, who was tied to a tree and beaten to death on the island last year.  

The Bay Island Voice, one of the few publications on Roatan, wrote a rather unflattering article about the heinous murder of who it alternated between calling a "transvestite" and a "transgender," saying the victim "... was deaf and could speak only a few words, was a familiar sight along the road between French Harbour and Coxen Hole parading about in hotpants and a tube top and similarly flamboyant transgender apparel. His body was found beaten to death and wrapped in a sheet on the roadside near Juticalpa on Roatan’s East End July 18. He was 22."

The article explained that Lele experienced a "history of suffering abuse" and had been "beaten by groups of young men multiple times."

The murderers of Lele were arrested and then soon set free, notwithstanding substantial evidence implicating them in the crime. 

Is this really where the "first transgender cruise" wants to go?

The organizer of the cruise, "Stephanie," knows nothing of this, I'm sure.  She writes: "My suggestion to you is to do the shore excursions with the group so you will feel safe. If you want venture on your own, please use common sense . . . My recommendation is to stay around others and you will be fine."

Let's hope so. But the story raises the issue of how LGBT's are treated during cruises and ashore in the ports of call in the Caribbean.

Two years ago we wrote about bizarre behavior of Carnival responding to a drag queen cruise - Who Will Be The First Drag Queen Kicked Off The Carnival Glory? - as well as a gay couple arrested on a gay cruise to Dominica - Rouges & Vagabonds:" Gay Cruise Couple Fined, Insulted & Deported From Dominica.  

Being a LGBT traveler in the Caribbean is not easy.  Jamaica, Caymans, Bahamas, Dominica, Honduras, and St. Lucia are begrudgingly tolerant at best and openly hostile at worst to LGBT visitors.

Is there anywhere in the Caribbean with open arms to the LGBT community?  

Interested in this topic? We suggest reading: Travel Weekly's Go or no? Should LGBT travelers visit hostile places? ("I will get pressured by journalists wanting to cover Roatan, in Honduras," she said. "I've been there; it's a beautiful place. But four transsexual women were murdered [in Honduras], and activists were beaten. ...")

August 13 2014 Update: Reports of murdered trans people in 26 countries in the last 12 months, with the majority from Brazil (95), Mexico (40), the USA (16), and Venezuela (15), followed by Honduras (12), Colombia (12), and El Salvador (5).

According to planetransgender.com, "while Brazil, Mexico, and the USA have the highest absolute numbers, the relative numbers show even more worrisome results for some countries with smaller population sizes. Honduras, for instance, has a rate of 1.5 reported trans killings per million inhabitants, for El Salvador the rate is 0.71, while for Brazil the rate is 0.49, for Mexico the rate is 0.36, and for the USA the rate is 0.05." 

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Perry Wintle - August 13, 2014 5:33 AM

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CORRUPTION IN PARADISE , from Dreams to Nightmares , on Goatan Island
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the book is real and so is the crime there .Had to get out after 8 years .Avoid that island and country ...the murder capital of the world

Christine - August 13, 2014 3:08 PM

Before we slander other countries too much...let's just remember that transgender people have been killed in the streets all across the US in the past year and our murderers often go unpunished.

Andy Smithers - August 13, 2014 4:01 PM

All LBGT folks need to be care in the Caribbean no matter the port. You are not in America anymore and the hate card will be played at your expense. I say stay on the ship. End of story. I have been harassed in Jamaica, Caymans, and the Dominican Republic. That is why i don't cruise there any more!

martin - August 13, 2014 7:28 PM

I don't recommend Honduras to be visited by trans I'm Honduran my self and I get intimidated and discriminated against on a daily basis, please think about it much love.

Marco Antonio Martinez - August 14, 2014 1:55 AM

Roatan es uno de los lugares más seguro y hermosos de Honduras. y los hechos ocurridos son aislados como suceden en todas partes del mundo. Yo recuerdo hace varios años como en New Orleans, en Bourbon Street un hombre fue acuchillado en un bar de ese lugar, a pesar de la seguridad de la ciudad.

Es injusto que personas que nunca han venido a Honduras opinen sobre lo que se escucha y no se tomen el tiempo de investigar.

La violencia en mundial, si no vean como en Estados Unidos las escuelas son lugares inseguros, en donde las matanzas son colectivas, o como cuando en aquella Maratón exploto una bomba.

No podemos negar que nuestro país vive actualmente uno de sus peores momentos de inseguridad, pero la gente que matan son personas en su mayoría involucradas en el crimen organizado, Maras y Narcotráfico.

Lamentablemente nuestra posición geográfica nos ha convertido en una ruta de paso entre los que producen la droga y quienes las consumen, y a nosotros nos ha quedado como resultado poner los muertos.

Estado Unidos por ser un mercado lleno de vicios, atrae el mercado del narcotráfico, y Honduras es una victima de ese negocio ilegal.

Mo - August 14, 2014 2:09 AM

Martin, I dont share your opinion...i live in Honduras myself..Im a transgender female to Male. Honduras is a beautiful country, especially Roatan. Discrimination is found everywhere you go. Murders happen everywhere..i believe as a cruise, and as long as you walk in groups and stay close in the touristic areas youre fine. It doesnt guarantee anything..but thats life for you. Nothing is certain.

Dave Smith - August 14, 2014 10:48 AM

Seriously, is it REALLY seen as progress when we still have to segregate people because of who they are? How does that help anyone? If LGBT people ever want true equality, then they have to go on cruises WITH everyone else...not separated and labeled.

Sheesh...What's next? Their own water fountain or section of the ship?

I thought we lived in 2014!

Tasi Zuriack - August 14, 2014 5:28 PM

Tri-Ess ran TG tours for many years until the key person died last year. Why special tours; because the cruise lines themselves were the problem, particularly for the transgender community. For those cruise lines that stop in Progreso (Yucatan), Merida is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the Caribbean. In fact Sister House is sponsoring a TG conference here next year. Any travel organizations wishing information can contact me through the website or at my email address tasidevil@yahoo.com

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