I’m Dennis Castillo, I’m 32 years old, and I’m from Honduras. Unfortunately in my country there are deaths every day. Many of these murders are part of a wave of persecution and hate crimes against sexual diversity. I started my activism at age 13 after experiencing discrimination and violence. I started working on a human rights program after witnessing the murder of one of my colleagues. As I could testify against those involved in this crime, my life was in danger and I received several threats.
For these reasons, I migrated to San José, Costa Rica in 2012 and applied as a refuge based on sexual orientation. After five months, the Costa Rican State made me the first case of granting refugee status based on sexual orientation. My case has been emblematic and today it helps that many other sexual diversity leaders persecuted in Central America can be protected in this country.
I come from a family of many values. I am the youngest son and the one most pampered by my sisters. Being gay marked the kind of love that some members of my family gave me, but they all love me. It was therefore difficult to accept that I had to leave Honduras and look for another country to live and thus escape the death threats. I left my home and my mother of advanced age; to know that she is concerned is the hardest things I have to deal with.
Once in Costa Rica, I founded a newsletter that I called expats and realized that I could do a lot though online media. In 2013, I met another group of refugees and founded Comunidad Casabierta. We are a team, a community, a family, and a space for human rights activists and human rights defenders living in persecution to find opportunities than range from protecting themselves to training, research and opportunities for attention. We want to be a safe and creative space so that persecution and refuge do not disrupt our organizations, nor our life. For us, the center of our activism is virtual activism.
It is worth mentioning that I have had privileges to be able to exchange experiences with other activists worldwide. I was able to visit Holland in 2014 with the program "Influentials Program on LGBT rights", as well as other leadership meetings in Lima Peru. In addition, I participated in training processes with the International Organization for Migration (IOM): a meeting at the Mesoamerican level in Tapachula, Mexico, articulating a network committed to the protection and rights of vulnerable LGBTI people on their migratory route. Recently, with the support of IOM, I was able to participate in the LGBTI Political Leadership meeting held in the Dominican Republic.
I would like humanity to be truly democratic for LGBTI population. That LGBT people have access to all human rights in our countries. My dream is for one day to return to my country and live in peace. That my country may have openly gay, lesbian or trans public officials. In the meantime, I would like homes for all LGBT leaders, who are rejected by their families and / or threatened in their lives.