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Third lesbian killed after boardinghouse arson attack in Argentina

Third Lesbian Dies LGBTQ Attack Argentina Molotov Cocktail
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The attack has sent a chill through Argentina’s LGBTQ+ community.

A third Argentinian lesbian has died from burn injuries suffered when a man set the women's boarding home ablaze with a Molotov cocktail on May 6, the local advocacy group LGBT+ Federation told Agence France-Presse.

Pamela Fabiana Cobbas, 52, Mercedes Figueroa, 52, and now Andrea Amarante, 42, all succumbed to burn injuries in the days following the blaze. Figueroa was reportedly burned on 90 percent of her body while 75 percent of Amarente’s body was burned.

A fourth woman, Sofia Castroriglos Riglos, 49, remains in a local hospital but is expected to live.

The four women shared a room at a boardinghouse in the Barracas barrio of Buenos Aires.

A neighbor, Justo Fernando Barrientos, 68, had previously threatened the women, according to witnesses. They said he was later allegedly seen throwing the Molotov cocktail into the upstairs room shared by the four women. The blaze quickly spread throughout the building.

Barrientos was arrested and taken to a separate hospital for a self-inflicted neck injury. He was later discharged and remains in police custody.

An investigation into the attack is ongoing. It remains unclear if prosecutors will charge Barrientos with a hate crime in addition to multiple murder charges.

The attack has caused an uproar in the South American country known previously for its progressive LGBTQ+ laws and climate. Same-sex sexual relations, marriage equality, and adoption of children by same-sex couples are all legal, according to Outright International. Argentina’s hate-crime laws recognize sexual and gender identity as aggravating circumstances for filing charges. But activists warn that President Javier Milei and his administration are taking the country backward.

“Hate crimes are the result of a culture of violence and discrimination, sustained by hate speech currently endorsed by several government officials,” LGBT Federation said in a statement. “The only spaces to which those of us who are victims of these attacks can resort are being emptied or eliminated by the current government. ... We will support them and help them and their families in whatever they need, and will follow the case in court so justice is served."

Milei has, among other actions, banned the use of gender-inclusive language within the military and has publicly criticized progressive policies of previous administrations.

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