Pena Nieto has proposed a constitutional reform that would legalize same-sex marriage nationwide after the Supreme Court ruled last year that state bans were unconstitutional
Mexico City (AFP) - Homophobia has surged in Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed to legalize same-sex marriage in May, a gay rights group said Tuesday, reporting 26 hate-fueled murders this year.
Alejandro Brito, head of the Citizen Commission against Homophonic Hate Crimes, said there was a "defamation campaign" against gays.
"This can trigger a wave of violence and an increase in attacks against homosexuals. We think that it's important for the authorities to take care of this before a tragedy takes place," he said.
"Homophobia has worsened this year due to the opposition to the initiative that the president has sent to Congress," Brito said at a news conference.
"We don't want an Orlando in Mexico," he said, referring the murder of 49 people by a gunman at a gay nightclub in the Florida city in June.
Pena Nieto has proposed a constitutional reform that would legalize same-sex marriage nationwide after the Supreme Court ruled last year that state bans were unconstitutional. Currently only a handful of the country's 31 states and Mexico City allow such weddings.
Brito said that at least 26 people from the LGBT community were killed so far this year, with some brutal homicides perpetrated after the president's announcement.
On June 25, two lesbians were verbally attacked by a man for their sexual orientation while they were outside a store in the northern city of Monclova.
The couple left but the man hit their car with his vehicle and shot one of the women in the neck, killing her, Brito said.
The Mexico Equality Movement has documented two other murders of gays after Pena Nieto's announcement. One was run over and the other one was tortured.
Brito's group reported 44 homophobia-fueled murders in 2015, down from 72 in 2014. An average of 71 anti-LGBT murders have taken place every year in the past decade.
But Brito said the figure is likely much higher as the statistics are only based on news reports.
"For each case reported in the press, there are at least two others that are not reported," he said.
Pena Nieto's initiative has been opposed by Mexico's Roman Catholic Church and members of conservative parties.
The leftist Democratic Revolution Party and LGBT rights groups filed complaints in the interior ministry and the government's anti-discrimination agency against bishops and a cardinal, accusing them of violating the constitution for their public stance against same-sex marriage.
Brito said that propaganda has spread at private schools claiming that children were at risk of facing questions about gender in class.