Joint statement: The silence of the Venezuelan State, institutions, and political parties against LGBTIQ+ rights

Photo credit: Image extracted from heartsonvenezuela.com website

In May 2020, the National Assembly presided by Juan Guaido recognized, through a parliamentarian agreement, the higher vulnerability experienced by the LGBTIQ+ community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the approved document includes a guarantee of article 77 of the National Constitution, which establishes marriage as a union between a man and a woman, ratifying their rejection to expand civil rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Such defense of heteronormativity, shared by Maduro’s government also, was criticized then by several LGBTIQ+ organizations who denounced this agreement as discriminatory, as it denies the need to implement constitutional and legal changes that guarantee civil rights for everyone, the way it has been done in other Latin American countries.

On July 7, several LGBTIQ+ organizations launched the following statement to protest the systematic silence against their rights by government and traditional opposition actors.

To mark the Month of the rebellion of sexual diversity and the LGBTIQ+ Pride Month, LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Organizations and activists join efforts to make public the systematic silence against our rights by the Venezuelan State, Government Institutions, and political parties.

Considering that the Venezuelan State must give protection to all citizens regardless of race, sex, creed, political condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and to guarantee the free development of the person, according to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Considering that Article 21.2 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, according to which “The law will guarantee the legal and administrative conditions so that equality before the law is real and effective; adopt positive measures in favor of individuals or groups that may be discriminated against, marginalized, or vulnerable…,” is practically null concerning the protection of LGBTIQ+ rights since the few articles currently inserted in the national legislative framework and the public policies to reduce discrimination and vulnerability of LGBTIQ + persons in the country are insufficient.

Considering that other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, and Costa Rica, have made great strides in the field of Human Rights for LGBTIQ + people and their collective.

Considering that in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the LGBTIQ+ people and community find ourselves in a social, political, and economic structural stagnation regarding egalitarian marriage, legal recognition of gender identity, and adoption rights of same-sex couples.

Considering that hate crimes, gender violence, physical and verbal assaults, sexual harassment, among others, against LGBTIQ+ persons constitute Human Rights violations that are not condemned or thoroughly investigated according to Venezuelan law, discriminating against the victims on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Considering that the Venezuelan State, the Government Institutions, and political parties are governed and represented by people who deliberately neglect the constitutional mandate to protect and legislate in favor of the Human Rights of LGBTIQ + people. They are driven by prejudices, fundamentalisms, moralisms, and religious positions that disrespect the rights enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution; That from their positions of power inside and outside the state apparatus, and in the role of decision making, they have developed hateful and violent rhetoric to undermine the real and effective exercise of the Human Rights of the LGBTIQ+ collective in Venezuela.

Considering that transgender women and men have sex work as a source of employment since they do not have social protection that guarantees the right to a decent life and that they expose their lives to the scourge of criminality, police and/or judicial intolerance, and hate from Lesbo-Homo-Bi-Trans Phobia.

Considering that the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people, motivated by the social, political, and economic crisis, has generated a continuous exodus, fueled by an illusion of better quality of life that is not always fulfilled, in search of a legal system that guarantees them the rights that have been denied to them in their country of origin.

Considering that before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, several particular risks were affecting LGBTIQ + people, especially those living with HIV / AIDS; that efficient public policies have not yet been implemented to care for and protect the physical and mental health of LGBTIQ + people living with HIV / AIDS in their jobs, especially the Trans population.

We denounce before civil society and the people in general some of the unhonored obligations of the Venezuelan State and government entities with the LGBTIQ community in the country

First: The National Assembly under a ruling party majority and more recently under opposition majority, has not legislated on the protection of the rights of LGBTIQ + people for more than 20 years. The parliament has ignored several requests from Human Rights organizations and the bill proposals continue to be put on the shelf litigated without any signs of being discussed in the future.

Second: Several cases in the justice system have been waiting for a ruling for years, thus violating, de facto and de jure, all procedural steps to issue a sentence following the law, namely: 1) A request to declare article 44 of the Civil Code null, which was admitted in 2016 in recognition of same-sex marriage. 2) A requested explanation of judgment 1187 of 2016 in favor of the recognition of single-parent families in the country. 3) A lawsuit for unconstitutionality against article 565 of the Organic Code of Military Justice under which the sexual orientation of army officers who “commit sexual acts against nature” is sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. After four years, this case remains to be admitted to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ). 4) An Unnamed Action of Constitutional Nature for the right to identity of trans people. Omission remains the norm at the Constitutional Chamber since the first such action was taken 14 years ago and after another was brought by other trans people 3 years ago.

Third: The declaration of the National Day against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia approved by the National Assembly in May 2016, was later declared void by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, revealing that political struggles and the political-institutional conflicts of recognition and legitimacy between the Legislative Power and the Judiciary are above the human right to non-discrimination of LGBTIQ + people.

Fourth: The Executive Power has not fulfilled the objectives outlined in the 2013-2019 Plan de la Patria (National Plan) and the 2015-2019 National Plan on Human Rights, nor has it seriously assumed the 2015 recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other resolutions signed and ratified by Venezuela in the international arena to mitigate the effects of discrimination on LGBTIQ + people.

Fifth: The Public Ministry does little or nothing for the LGBTIQ + community in the country. It constantly ignores hate crimes committed against LGBTIQ + people because of their sexual orientation, identity, and gender expression. It insists on continuing to treat these crimes as common crimes. There is no specialized prosecution office for discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ + people because no law in the country contemplates these cases of discrimination and violence.

Sixth: Since 2001, the Ombudsman’s Office has failed to devise a special office to protect LGBTIQ + people in situations of vulnerability and constant discrimination. This has not materialized due to lack of budget, according to representatives of the organ. It is ironic to think that there is a national social program for the care and protection of animals (in no detriment of the importance and responsibility of the State to guarantee their protection) but the nation does not have the financial resources to protect the constitutional guarantees of LGBTIQ + people.

Seventh: Despite the advances in some spaces of public life, the existence of local decrees, offices, and centers that are created and then removed across the Republic, and LGBTIQ + people occupying positions of relevance, there is still no public or private entity in the entire national territory devoted to carrying out public protection policies in the field of human rights in favor of LGBTIQ + people.

We the LGBTIQ+ Pride month with pride but also with resistance and rebellion. 

The following organizations and human rights activists inside and outside the country subscribe to this statement.

  • Asociación Civil ADHAM Asociación de Derechos Humanos Amigos de Margarita
  • Asociación Civil Alianza Lambda de Venezuela
  • Asociación Civil Divas de Venezuela
  • Asociación Civil Ejército Emancipador
  • Asociación Civil Fundapema Apure
  • Asociación Civil Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panamá
  • Asociación Civil Orgullo Glbt Venezuela
  • Asociación Civil PROVEA Programa Venezolano de Educación en Derechos Humanos
  • Asociación Civil Transvenus de Venezuela
  • Asociación Civil Venezuela Igualitaria
  • Associacao Civil ARTGAY Articulacao Brasileira de Gays
  • Bloque Socialista Unido de Liberación Homosexual
  • Comité de Trabajadores/as LGBTIQ+ de la Central de Trabajadores/as ASI Venezuela
  • Encuentro Ciudadano
  • Festival Internacional de Cine VIH SIDA
  • Fundación ARMIF Academia Artística Miguel Franco
  • Mov. de la Sexodiversidad de la UNEXCA
  • Mov. Nacional de la SexoDiversidad Venezolana Frente Francisco de Miranda
  • Mov. Sexodiversidad de Aragua
  • Mov. Sexodiversidad Revolucionaria de Venezuela
  • Mov. Social Dignidad LGBTI
  • Orbita Gay Portal de Noticias LGBTI
  • ProDiversxs
  • Red Temática de la Diversidad Sexual LGBTIQ+ de Nicaragua
  • Utopia LGBTIH+

Translated by: José Rafael Medina.

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