Jesús Ociel Baena: Mexico’s first non-binary judge found dead

  • By Kathryn Armstrong
  • BBC news

image source, Mexican government


Baena received their gender neutral passport in June this year

Mexico’s first openly non-binary member of the judiciary and prominent LGBTQ+ activist Jesús Ociel Baena has been found dead in his home.

The body of the judge was discovered on Monday in the central city of Aguascalientes, along with the body of another person.

Local media identified the second person as Baena’s partner.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said it was unclear “whether it was a murder or… some kind of accident”.

According to a statement from the state attorney’s office, there were no signs that a third person had entered the house.

They said a sharp object had been found and preliminary findings suggested the incident may have been personal.

LGBTQ+ rights group Letra S has called on local authorities to investigate the deaths thoroughly and without prejudice.

Alejandro Brito, the group’s director, said Baena, who used the pronouns they/them, had received “many hate messages and even threats of violence and death,” the Associated Press reported.

Brito added that Baena had “broken through the invisible barriers that closed in the non-binary community”.

The 38-year-old became a judge at the Electoral Court of Aguascalientes in October 2022 and was considered the first non-binary person in Latin America to hold a judicial position.

In June, they were among the first group of people to be issued gender-neutral passports.

“I’m a non-binary person, I’m 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’s 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 night.

“We are heirs to a fight that Ociel inherited from us,” one person told the Reuters news agency.

“We must not let Ociel’s death go 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 judge’s death.

“We lost a strong voice for equality and the rights of LGBTI+ people,” he said.

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