Forty-nine year-old Hitler Baneo Núñez doused his son in gasoline and set him on fire for being gay and HIV positive, the newspaper La Region reported last week.
The attack occurred in Loreto, a region of Peru deep in the Amazon. The boy, who is 22 and identified as Roberto, was rescued by his neighbors and his aunt, who took him to the region’s largest city, Iquitos. Roberto, who also has tuberculosis, has been living in a nursing home for people with HIV since the beginning of March.
La Region reported that Nuñez attacked Roberto because he “could not bear being a laughing stock after they learned his son had homosexual inclinations.” But Roberto told the press that his father was motivated as much by fear of his illness as homophobia.
“My father wanted to kill me for having these illnesses,” Roberto said. “Unfortunately, my father does not accept me as I am.”
Since learning of the case, the local LGBT organization, the Comunidad Homosexual de la Región Loreto (CHERL), is hoping the local authorities will treat this case as a human rights abuse, not just an assault.
“We hope that this complaint … will be treated seriously by the authorities and that it can generate a change and call attention of the public to the homophobia that lives inside the home and is growing in society towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people in the Loreto region,” the group said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed.
Hate crimes are a widespread problem in Peru, say activists, who have been pressing the national government to pass a hate crimes law. Though official statistics are not kept, the group PromSex documented 17 cases in 2011 through media reports. But because many attacks go unreported to police or don’t catch the attention of local media, this number likely understates the frequency with which attacks occur in the country.