Statement by Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Deputy Director at Equality Illinois, the state's civil rights organization for LGBTQ+ people, regarding the death of Dr Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo:
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo. Ociel was one of the most prominent and visible LGBTQ+ activists in Mexico and lived in the state of Aguascalientes, where my family lives and where I grew up. In 2021, Ociel and I collaborated on a podcast where we discussed activism and the advancement of protections and rights for LGBTQ+ people in Mexico and in Illinois. It was truly a joy to learn and share with Ociel. I remain in awe of their courage, vision, and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and particularly, to ensuring the recognition and visibility of non-binary people.
Ociel was extraordinary. They were often seen wearing skirts, makeup and high heels on and off the bench. They were the first non binary Magistrate in all of Latin America. Ociel was recently awarded their doctorate degree, the first issued in non-binary language. They proudly shared with me that their dissertation was written entirely in non-binary language. They were also the first person in Mexico to be issued a passport with a non-binary gender marker. Ociel broke many barriers for LGBTQ+ people in Mexico and throughout Latin America and was an indefatigable activist for the lives and dignity of LGBTQ+ people, particularly non-binary individuals.
In July 2023, Ociel was issued an order of protection due to the many death threats they received for their activism. Mexico rates second, after Brazil, in the number of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community.
Equality Illinois' Deputy Director, Mony Ruiz-Velasco, also from Aguascalientes, collaborated with Dr. Ociel Baena in a podcast in 2021 where they discussed activism and the advancement of protections and rights for LGBTQ+ people in Mexico and in Illinois.
We must do better for LGBTQ+ communities, not only in Illinois, but throughout the world. To learn more about the work of Dr. Ociel Baena Saucedo, listen to our podcast EUA y MX Activismo. To support the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights for the people of Mexico, follow and support Movimiento por la Igualdad en Mexico and Asistencia Legal por los Derechos Humanos."
About Equality Illinois At Equality Illinois we envision a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We work hard to promote legislation to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals; maintain the visibility of LGBTQ+ issues; oppose legislation which seeks to limit the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community; and expand statewide grassroots support.