LGBT activists in Peru held a demonstration on Friday (August 26) to question the manner in which their government handled the death of a Peruvian transgender man in Indonesia earlier this month. The man passed away after being detained at the airport upon arriving to celebrate his honeymoon in Indonesia. LGBT activists in Peru are questioning how their government handled the situation.
Rodrigo Ventosilla, a transgender rights activist from Peru who was a PhD student at Harvard University, passed away on the Indonesian island of Bali due to “bodily collapse” just a few days after being jailed for the suspected possession of cannabis.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru issued a statement this week in which it stated that the alleged possession of drugs by Ventosilla was a serious crime in Indonesia and that transphobia had not been a factor in his arrest; however, the statement did not acknowledge that he had later died while being held in custody.
During a peaceful demonstration in Lima, an LGBT rights activist named Luz Manriquez said, “We reject and condemn the foreign ministry’s statement.”
According to Manriquez, the statement issued by the government was prejudiced because it took the stance of Indonesia and did not call for an investigation to be carried out.
According to Manriquez, who noted that the statement, “it lacks empathy since it does not recognize that a Peruvian has died at the hands of police from another country.”
On Friday, a lawyer representing the Ventosilla family, Brenda Alvarez, told reporters that the foreign ministry had agreed to apologize for the statement and begin an investigation into the matter.
It was not possible to get a comment from the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Alvarez also mentioned that there is not a specific timetable for the arrival of Ventosilla’s body in Lima.
This Monday, the Indonesian police told Reuters that the investigation has ended and that Ventosilla’s death was not the result of any act of violence.
Arturo Davila, a member of Diversidades Trans Masculinas, a trans rights organization that Ventosilla founded in Peru seven years ago, stated that “even if you are detained in another country, it is unreal and painful that (the Peruvian government) can leave you like this.” Diversidades Trans Masculinas was established by Ventosilla.