Angola: Carlos Fernandes, LGBTQI+ Pioneer, Believed Murdered


Dozens of mourners in Luanda marched in honour of Carlos Fernandes, a trailblazer in the LGBTQI+ rights movement in Angola (Images: Associação Íris Angola / Facebook)

The queer community in Angola is reeling from the loss of Carlos Fernandes, founder and director of Associação Íris Angola (Íris), the country’s first registered LGBTQI+ group, amid suspicions of murder.

Local media reported that Fernandes’ lifeless body was discovered in his Luanda home on 26th February. Novo Jornal revealed that the Criminal Investigative Service is probing the circumstances of his death, suspecting it to be a murder by asphyxiation.

Alarmingly, this marks the second suspicious death of an LGBTQI+ individual by possible asphyxiation in Angola in recent weeks, following the discovery of a lawyer’s body in his apartment.

Mourners Faced With Queerphobic Violence

On 1st March, dozens of mourners gathered for an emotional candlelight vigil and procession along Luanda’s waterfront to honour Fernandes.

However, days later, Íris reported violent homophobic attacks against LGBTQI+ community members at Fernandes’ funeral at the Benfica Cemetery.

“As the bereaved community came together to pay their final respects to a dear friend, brother and LGBTQIAP+ family member, we were confronted with a shocking scene of intolerance and aggression,” said the organisation.

“Unscrupulous, totally organised individuals driven by hate and the lack of respect for basic human rights brutally attacked people who were vulnerable, amid the pain of loss.”

Íris  noted that, thankfully, there were no serious injuries.

A pioneer in the fight for LGBTQI+ Rights

Fernandes is being remembered globally as a trailblazer in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights in Angola, instrumental in the historic decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2021.

In a statement, Íris said of its fallen leader: “Carlos Fernandes was much more than a friend, a beloved member of our LGBTQIAP+ community. His presence radiated unconditional joy, love and acceptance. Your smile was contagious, your kindness unforgettable.”

The US Embassy to Angola described Fernandes “as a unifying voice for LGBTQI+ Angolans,” praising his leadership and coordination of LGBTQI+ activism in the country.

South African-based, The Other Foundation expressed gratitude for “his immense contribution to building the LGBTI movement in Angola and the whole Southern African region”, adding “You will be missed.”

MambaOnline expresses its condolences to Fernandes’ family and friends as well as Angola’s LGBTQI+ community at large. May he rest in power.

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