Memorial vigils are being held from 7pm on Monday, October 7, in Wagga Wagga and in Sydney to celebrate the life of murdered Filipina trans woman Mhelody Polan Bruno.

The Sydney event is taking place in the square outside Newtown’s The Hub building, while the Wagga event will take place in Victory Memorial Gardens.

As Wagga Wagga is under a fire ban, attendees are asked to bring electronic candles.


The vigils come as more details emerge about the Filipina tourist’s death, with the NSW Coroner’s forensic staff reportedly confirming that she died of strangulation.

According to English language Philippines news website Rappler, Mhelody’s friends also fear that she was raped.

A 31-year-old man was arrested on September 22 at Wagga Wagga Police Station the day after Mhelody was found unresponsiveat a home unit, suggesting that he surrendered himself to police.

He was charged with manslaughter and granted strict conditional bail to appear at Wagga Wagga Local Court on November 6.

Ms Bruno had been due to leave Australia less than a week after her death, having spent two months travelling around the country.

Her family have been calling on the Philippines Government to assist them in repatriating her body.

“Our call is for the government to help bring our sister home,” her brother Leonel told Rappler.

“I hope they can help us [but] there is no one handling our case.”

The Sydney branch of Filipino pro-democracy movement Anakbayan has joined other groups in calling for justice for Mhelody.

“Filipina women represent a disproportionately high percentage of sexual & domestic abuse victims in Australia,” the group said in an online statement.

“Mhelody was also particularly vulnerable to the often fatal violence that disproportionately affects transgender [women of colour] around the world.”

“We join … others in demanding justice for Mhelody. This means a full, fair and transparent investigation into her murder, as well as her timely return to her family back home in the Philippines as per their requests.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help assist Mhelody’s family with her funeral expenses.

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