Mexico’s first openly Non-binary Magistrate, Jesus Ociel Baena, has been found dead at their home, with supporters demanding justice over their death.
Baena was known for their advocacy for LGBTQI rights across Latin America, as well as advancing legal recognition for Non-Binary people within Mexico.
On Monday morning, November 13, the state prosecutor’s office confirmed the death of Baena and their partner Dorian Herrera. Activist groups have raised concerns Baena’s visibility may have been a motivation for their death, calling for authorities to further investigate the deaths.
Mexico’s Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said they were still investigating the cause of death. Rodriguez said authorities were unsure “if it was a homicide or if it was some kind of accident.”
Aguascalientes’ state prosecutor’s office has since made multiple statements since announcing the death on Monday morning.
They initially said the deaths may have resulted from a “personal matter,” following preliminary investigations. However, after finding multiple suspected razor blade lacerations on Baena’s body, suspicions of murder have been raised.
Speaking with the Guardian, director of LGBTQI rights group Letra S Alejandro Brito said that Baena’s visibility needs to be taken into consideration, potentially making him a target.
“They were a person who received many hate messages, and even threats of violence and death, and you can’t ignore that in these investigations,” said Brito.
“They, the magistrate, were breaking through the invisible barriers that closed in the nonbinary community,” Brito explained.
Community Mourns Baena’s Death
On the night following their death, thousands of supporters protested and held a candlelight vigil following Baena’s death. Advocates have also expressed their outrage following authorities’ preliminary investigations.
LGBTQI groups have considered the authorities suggestions of suicide as being the result of Baena’s death, is an attempt to brush off the rising violence against queer people in Mexico.
In a report by Letra S, 453 LGBTQI murders have been documented from 2018 to 2022, with the group suggesting the number is potentially higher.
The group identifies Trans and gender diverse people as being the most common victims, with 13 people murdered in the first five months of 2023.
🚨🇲🇽| The march to demand justice after the death of Jesús Ociel Baena, “Magistrade” of the Electoral Tribunal of Aguascalientes, began in the Estela de Luz, advanced on Reforma and gained more strength, heading towards the Zócalo pic.twitter.com/y5mvwhsPeV
— MAHR X (@MessiasAHG) November 14, 2023
Many other prominent figures have also expressed their condolences following Baena’s death and their frustrations with authorities.
Former Chief Justice of Mexico’s Supreme Court Arturo Zaldívar posted to Twitter, expressing his “deep regret” of Baena’s death and the significant loss for the countries LGBTQI communities.
“We lost a powerful voice for equality and the rights of LGBTI+ people,” said Zaldivar.
“The magistrate fought bravely for a more egalitarian society, in which diversity is celebrated and everyone can find happiness.”
Zaldivar also demands for the facts surrounding their death be “fully clarified,” also using the hashtag “Justice for Ociel.”
Lamento profundamente el fallecimiento de Jesús Ociel Baena. Perdimos una voz potente por la igualdad y los derechos de las personas LGBTI+.
Le magistrade luchó con arrojo por una sociedad más igualitaria, en la que la diversidad sea celebrada y todes puedan encontrar la…
— Arturo Zaldívar (@ArturoZaldivarL) November 13, 2023
Last year, October 2022, Baena made history by being sworn in as the first non-binary magistrate in the country.
They continued to be trailblazers for non-binary recognition, being granted the first non-binary passport by Mexico’s foreign relations ministry in May of this year.
Three weeks ago, Barna was also the first to receive the title of “maestre” or non-gender professor title, specialising in electoral law.