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SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — From U.N. chambers to the halls of the State Department, global pressure on countries to protect the rights of gay people and transgender people is rising.
For Josue Hernandez, the new emphasis can't come fast enough.
The 33-year-old gay activist bears the scar of the bullet that grazed his skull in an attack a few years ago. He's moved the office of his advocacy group four times. Still, he feels hunted in what is arguably the most homophobic nation in the Americas.
"We are in a deplorable state," Hernandez said of gays in Honduras. "When we walk the streets, people shout insults at us and throw rocks. Parents move their children away."
Three months ago, a U.N. report declared that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — or LGBT — violates core international human rights law. It listed nations where violations are most severe.
Joining a push that originated in Europe, the Obama administration said in December that respect for LGBT rights is now a factor in its foreign policy decisions.
"Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in what diplomats described as a landmark speech Dec. 6 in Geneva. "It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished."
But even as that view grows more prevalent, it has yet to translate into better security, less hostility or fewer killings in places like Honduras, a nation of 8 million people in Central America.
Since the beginning of 2010, Honduras has tallied at least 62 homicides within the LGBT community, and some experts say the count may be far higher. Some victims have been mutilated and even burned.
The killing of gays is part of broader lawlessness. Honduras registered more than 6,700 homicides last year and has the highest per capita murder rate in the hemisphere.
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