IACHR Urges Venezuela to Refrain from Criminalizing LGBTI People

August 7, 2023

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its concern over arbitrary measures and abuses of authority committed by Venezuelan security agents that express prejudice based on individuals' sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, and sexual characteristics.

On July 23, the National Bolivarian Police Force (PNB) carried out an operation in a private venue frequented by LGBT people in the state of Carabobo, arresting 33 gay and sexually diverse men. During the operation, the detainees were photographed, and pictures of them and their identity cards were published in various media. Of those arrested, 30 were released under court supervision, while 3 were held in custody for 10 days.

Although the operation was allegedly prompted by noise-related complaints from neighbors, human rights defenders claim that the arrests were motivated by prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation. At present, LGBTI people in Venezuela are particularly vulnerable to arbitrary measures or the abuse of authority by State security agents based on prejudice against their nonnormative sexual orientation or gender identity.

The IACHR stated that criminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex, whether through laws or the actions of security and justice agencies, runs counter to inter-American and universal human rights standards. Similarly, the principles of due diligence require that information relating to the sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression of people under investigation must be handled with strict control of their privacy to ensure respect for the dignity and rights of all people involved.

In this regard, the IACHR urged Venezuela to respect human rights and cease criminalizing LGBTI people, in strict compliance with the principles of equality and nondiscrimination. It also called on the State to guarantee the principle of legality and to ensure that people are released if no crime has been committed and no charges have been brought against them. Finally, authorities are urged to refrain from publicly humiliating the accused and to ensure strict compliance with due diligence standards.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 176/23

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