IACHR Calls on State of Venezuela to Guarantee Rights of LGBTI People

September 8, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its concern over the absence of public policies and legislation to guarantee the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, trans, nonbinary, gender-diverse, and intersex (LGBTI) in Venezuela. To this end, it called on the State to take effective measures to recognize the rights of LGBTI people and eradicate the discrimination, violence, and vulnerability to which they are exposed.

The IACHR received information from civil society regarding the absence of State policies to collect data on acts of violence against LGBTI people. In this regard, in its Annual Report 2020, the IACHR warned that this work has been left to civil society organizations, and it therefore reiterated that States should collect and analyze statistical data on the prevalence and nature of prejudice-based violence and discrimination against LGBTI people or those who are perceived as such.

Furthermore, the IACHR reiterated its concern at the entry into force of article 565 of the Organic Code of Military Justice, which establishes a penalty of one to three years' imprisonment for any person in the military who "commits unnatural sex acts," thus criminalizing consensual sexual relations between people of the same gender in the military. In this sense, the IACHR reminded the State of Venezuela of its duty to repeal this provision because it runs counter to the right to equality and nondiscrimination. It also noted that the existence of laws that criminalize consensual relationships may contribute to a social environment in which discrimination and violence against LGBTI people are understood to be tacitly permitted or tolerated.

It also observed that in Venezuela there is no legislation in place that guarantees access to legal concepts that guarantee the protection of the rights of diverse families on an equal footing and without discrimination, such as the right to marriage. In this regard, in accordance with the recommendations of the IACHR and Advisory Opinion 24/17 of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court), States must legally recognize civil unions or marriage without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, granting all rights that derive from this relationship.

Furthermore, the IACHR received information from civil society on the absence of procedures to guarantee the right to gender identity for trends, nonbinary, and gender diverse people, which impacts their full enjoyment of their human rights. Consequently, the IACHR urged the State to guarantee trans, nonbinary, and gender-diverse people's rights to rectify their image, name, and sex/gender markers through simple, expeditious domestic procedures, preferably of an administrative nature, that are available to Venezuelans within the country and abroad.

Finally, it called on Venezuela to promote laws and public policies that guarantee LGBTI people's human rights to equality and nondiscrimination, moving toward cultural change that promotes a more inclusive, egalitarian society that is free of all types of discrimination.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 235/21

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