Jesús Ociel Baena: Mexico’s first magistrate who identified as non-binary found dead

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Jesús Ociel Baena, Mexico’s inaugural openly non-binary member of the judiciary and a prominent LGBTQ+ activist, was found deceased at their residence.

The body of the magistrate was located on Monday in the central city of Aguascalientes, alongside the remains of a second individual, identified by local media as Baena’s partner.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said it was unclear “if it was a homicide or… some kind of accident”.

According to a statement from the state attorney general’s office, there was no sign that a third person had entered the house

They said that a sharp object had been found and that preliminary findings suggested the incident could have been a personal matter.

The LGBTQ+ rights group Letra S has urged local authorities to investigate the deaths thoroughly and without prejudice.

Alejandro Brito, the group’s director, said that Baena, who used they/them pronouns, had received “many hate messages and even threats of violence and death”, the Associated Press reported.

Brito added that Baena had been “breaking through the invisible barriers that closed in the nonbinary community”.

In October 2022, at the age of 38, Jesús Ociel Baena assumed the role of a magistrate for the Aguascalientes state electoral court, marking a historic moment as the first non-binary individual in Latin America to hold a judicial position.

Furthermore, in June of the same year, Baena was among the inaugural recipients of gender-neutral passports.

“I am a non-binary person; I am not interested in seeing myself as a woman or a man,” Baena wrote on X, formerly Twitter, the same month.

“This is an identity; it is mine and for me, for no one else.”

A vigil was held for Baena by other LGBTQ+ activists in the capital, Mexico City, on Monday evening.

“We are heirs to a struggle that Ociel inherited from us,” one person told Reuters news agency.

“We must not let Ociel’s death pass in vain and we must carry on the legacy Ociel left us.”

The former chief justice of Mexico’s Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldivar, wrote on social media that he deeply regretted the magistrate’s death.

“We lost a strong voice for equality and the rights of LGBTI+ people,” he said.

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