LGBTQ activists in Peru demand autopsy for death in Bali

LIMA, Peru (AP) — LGBTQ rights activists rallied outside the prosecutor’s office Wednesday to demand an autopsy be performed on a Peruvian transgender man who died earlier this month after being detained on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.

Rodrigo Ventocilla, a 32-year-old graduate student at Harvard University, died Aug. 11 at a Bali hospital. He had been detained Aug. 6 after arriving at the island’s airport. His Peruvian husband, Sebastián Marallano, was also detained when he tried to help Ventocilla.

The couple, who married in Chile, went to Bali on their honeymoon.

Ventocilla’s body has been taken from Indonesia and is expected to arrive in Lima soon, and his relatives want officials in Peru to determine the cause of death, saying they suspect Indonesian authorities abused Ventocilla. Indonesian officials deny that.

“He was detained because of his gender identity. His identity document did not match his appearance. That made him a suspect for the Indonesian police. He was extorted, tortured and has died,” Luzmo Henríquez, a representative of the family of the deceased, told The Associated Press.

Indonesian authorities deny any act of violence and discrimination. “Everything went according to standard operation,” Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto, a Bali police spokesman, said Monday.

Officials in Indonesia said customs officers found a package of brownies with Ventocilla that they suspected might contain cannabis and turned him over to police. Officials said Ventocilla was taken to the hospital the morning of Aug. 9 after showing symptoms of depression and complaining of stomach pains. He died in the hospital Aug. 11.

LGBTQ activists protested in front of the Peruvian Foreign Ministry last week, complaining that Peruvian authorities did not independently investigate Ventocilla’s death and welcomed the Indonesian authorities’ version without any questions.

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