The death of Mexico’s first openly non-binary member of the judiciary appears to have been murder. Aguascalientes prosecutor Jesús Figueroa said Baena had been found with 20 wounds on their body, including one on their neck that was probably the cause of death.
Baena and their partner, Dorian Daniel Nieves Herrera, were found dead in their home by Baena’s cleaner on Nov. 13. According to the Aguascalientes state prosecutor, both presented wounds from a razor blade, and the security cameras showed no third party entering their home after they arrived in the early hours from a trip to Oaxaca.
The state prosecution service said it suspected Herrera killed Baena before taking his own life; their families, however, rejected that hypothesis. Federal authorities said they would coordinate with state authorities to investigate the deaths, with an interior ministry official saying “It’s important to not throw out any line of investigation”.
LGBT+ organizations organized silent vigils attended by thousands in 13 Mexican cities, including Mexico City. They pointed out that Baena had denounced death threats a few months earlier, when their friend and LGBT+ activist Ulises Salvador Nava was also murdered in the same city, and historically Mexican police had tended to haphazardly dismiss homophobic crimes as “crimes of passion”.
Baena was born in Saltillo, Coahuila, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in law from the Autonomous University of Coahuila and worked as a lecturer of electoral law, legislative process, and public management at the University for Professional Development.
In 2012, he moved to Aguascalientes, where they completed a doctoral degree in electoral law at the Autonomous University of Durango and worked as an electoral secretary at the National Electoral Institute (INE) and as a professor of electoral law at both the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes.
Baena was a prominent activist for non-binary and LGBT+ rights. As an electoral law specialist, he advocated the inclusion of LGBT+ candidates and issues within political parties, promoted gender-inclusive language, and urged Mexican authorities to issue voting and identity documents that accurately reflect the gender identity of every holder. On May 17, 2023, Baena made history by becoming the first Mexican citizen to receive a gender-neutral passport (which at the time only 16 countries were offering) and was sworn in as a magistrate next to a rainbow flag.
The State Electoral Institute of Baja California (IEEBC), regrets the death of Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo, magistrate of the Electoral Court of the State of Aguascalientes (TEEAGS).
The Electoral Institute of Baja California expressed their sadness at the death of the magistrate saying Baena Saucedo was a person recognized in the activism of the political-electoral rights of the LGBTTTIQ+ community in the country, as well as in strategic electoral litigation for the benefit of people of sexual diversity.
“We hope that the competent authorities of the state of Aguascalientes carry out a prompt, expeditious, effective investigation with a human rights perspective,” the electoral institute said in a statement.