Press Release

IACHR Condemns Murder and Attempted Homicide of Lesbian Couple in the United States

July 9, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of Mollie Judith Olgin and the attempted homicide of her partner Mary Christine Chapa, 19 years old and 18 years old, respectively, in the State of Texas, United States.  

According to the information received, on June 22, 2012 close to midnight both of them were shot in the head in a park in Portland, Texas. They lay in knee-deep grass for nine hours before being discovered by visitors to the park. Mollie Judith Olgin died and Mary Christine Chapa was hospitalized and following surgery she is in serious but stable condition. The authorities have reportedly stated that they do not believe this was a random attack, and have indicated that this crime has some of the earmarks of a targeted attack.  

The IACHR reminds the State of its obligation to investigate such acts on its own initiative and to punish those responsible. The Inter-American Commission urges the State to conduct an investigation that takes into account whether this murder was committed because of the gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation of the victim.  

The Commission continues to receive information on killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of violence and exclusion against lesbians, gays, and trans, bisexual, and intersex persons in the continent.  In addition, the Commission notes that problems exist in the investigation of those crimes, which involve, in part, failures to open lines of investigation into whether the crime was committed by reason of the victim's gender identity or sexual orientation. The ineffectiveness of the state response fosters high rates of impunity, which in turn lead to the chronic repetition of such crimes, leaving the victims and their families defenseless. 

The IACHR urges the State to take action to prevent and respond to these human rights abuses and to ensure that LGTBI people can effectively enjoy their right to a life free from discrimination and violence.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 81/12