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Historic First Conviction on Sexual Orientation Hate Crime Charges

All defendants plead guilty in an abbreviated trial.

By | [email protected] | November 21, 2018 3:58pm

DSC08379Photo by Julian White-Davis. LGBTQ supporters walk to congress at the 2018 Pride March in Buenos Aires.
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It’s 6:30 PM on Friday, September 21, 2017. A group of seven men crowd around a table, enjoying an evening meal at a McDonald’s on Av. Córdoba. One of them notices two men sitting together romantically, and the group angrily puts their heads together to discuss what to do. Together, they approach the couple and begin to insult them and call them homophobic slurs. The rage escalates quickly, and it’s not long before they grab one of the men and throw him to the ground, kicking and punching him repeatedly.

After the attackers left, medics transferred Jonathan Castellari, 26 years old, to Sanatorio Güemes hospital where doctors discovered trauma to both eyes, a fractured eye socket, fractured teeth, muscle swelling, and bruises covering his body. Once treated for his physical injuries, Castellari began to have panic attacks regularly and had to begin attending therapy to help recover from the event psychologically.

During an abbreviated trial, the seven attackers — Gastón Trotta, Alejandro Trotta, Rodrigo Cardozo, Juan Ignacio Olivieri, Facundo Curto, Juan Bautista Antolini, and Jonathan Romero — agreed to a sentence of three years in prison, 96 community service hours at transgender-related medical and educational centers, and classes on discrimination and human rights at the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI).

The case is currently being reviewed by judge María Cristina Bértola to assure that the punishment is worthy of the crime, however if she rules in favor of the agreed outcome, it will be the first case in Argentina that dictates a punishment specifically for a “serious injury having been committed with hatred toward sexual orientation.”

According to prosecutors María Paula Roasto and Mariela Labozzetta, this type of violence against a specific group, such as LGBTQ+ individuals, has a symbolic significance because they send “a message of widespread terror to the whole community.”

In a report by the Argentine LGBT Federation, last year there were 103 registered hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, identity and/or gender expression — 21 percent of which were committed by police officers — and 13 percent resulted in death.