Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo was found dead at home in the central state of Aguascalientes in the early hours of Monday morning, alongside their romantic partner, Dorian Nieve. The pair lived together, according to authorities in Aguascalientes.
The cause of death is currently unknown, Mexico’s security minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez said, but prosecutors said forensic evidence suggested Baena was killed by Nieve in a murder-suicide.
Aguascalientes chief prosecutor Jesus Figueroa told Radio Formula that Baena was found with 20 lacerations from a shaving razor, including one to the neck that was likely fatal.
The prosecutor’s office added that “one of the lifeless bodies found was holding a cutting instrument.”
Prosecutors also ruled out the “presence of a third person” in the deaths, and noted that no traces of blood were found outside the crime scene and that there was no damage found in the accessways to the home.
But Baena’s father rejected the prosecutor’s theory that the former magistrate died in a murder-suicide.
“It’s not true,” he said at their funeral on Tuesday, as he stood near the pair of coffins, both draped with rainbow flags.
“Hopefully this will echo. These struggles, these movements, aren’t won overnight ... I love you my darling.”
Attorney general Jesús Figueroa said that there is no evidence of foul play in the deaths.
Figueroa added that the deaths would be investigated from a gender perspective due to Baena identifying as non-binary. However, the attorney general made no mention of a hate crime being committed.
But Baena and their partner had received death threats and hateful messages and had protection from state security, prompting many across the country to call their death a hate crime.
Baena became a member of the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes’ Electoral Tribunal just over a year ago. They are believed to have been the first non-binary person to hold the position.
Their death has caused an outcry in Mexico’s LGBT+ community, with rights organisations calling on authorities to investigate whether Baena’s gender identity or activism played a role in the suspected murder.
“The authorities should make sure that the investigation is exhaustive and leaves no stone unturned,” said Cristian Gonzalez, LGBT rights researcher with Human Rights Watch.
Candlelight vigils were held in multiple cities across the country on Monday night following news of Baena’s death, including in the capital, where many shed tears and speakers lashed out at the insults and acts of violence that remain a common occurrence for many gay, transgender and non-binary Mexicans.
Juan Pablo Delgado, head of local human rights group Amicus, highlighted Baena’s “transcendent” leadership and constant presence at public marches.
“This is someone who generated so much empathy, affection internationally,” he said.
Same-sex marriage was made legal across all 32 states of Mexico in 2022, after Tamaulipas became the last state that voted to authorize such unions.
However, LGBT+ activists and gender minorities continue to suffer high levels of violence and discrimination from social and religious conservatives in the country.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope and you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are based in the UK, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.