Social Issues

Activists protest ‘discrimination’ against gay couple in Caracas pizzeria

Caracas, Sep 25 (EFE).- Activists, human rights defenders and members of the LGBTQ+ community protested on Saturday against what was described as “discrimination” faced by two young people the previous night at a karaoke pizzeria in Caracas.

“I have just experienced an act of discrimination. At #VeraPizza in Chacao, they just told me that I can’t dance with my boyfriend because it’s a family environment … Why, according to them, it’s a disgusting act,” Danny Toro tweeted.

The protesters gathered at a plaza in the heart of the capital on Saturday evening and then headed for the pizzeria where the incident occurred.

Once inside the restaurant, they hugged and danced with each other as the pizzeria’s managers, reprimanded by the mayor’s office of the municipality of Chacao on Saturday, watched without interfering.

The reprimand was based on the ordinance approved by the municipal council of Chacao, on Aug. 9, 2016, with the objective of promoting equality and to “prevent, punish and eliminate all forms of discrimination in any of its manifestations.”

The incident was also criticized on social media on Saturday, and trended on Twitter under the hashtag #VeraPizza.

Following the backlash, the company released a statement on social media apologizing for the incident and saying that it tries to maintain “a pleasant and family environment” on the premises and that it has always been an “inclusive company” with respect to customers and workers.

Hours later, upon learning that the LGBTQ+ community had called a protest, one of the managers of the establishment requested to meet with members of the group for talks, but ended up only repeating the contents of the statement.

During the protest, Toro addressed the establishment’s workers and manager and expressed his rejection of “an act of discrimination against the LGBT community” that he said “does not do the country any good.”

“Because we cannot remain silent, because incidents like the one that occurred yesterday cannot be just something else that happened, that is why we decided to come here to protest… and seek that such incidents do not happen again,” Toro said.

The pizzeria’s manager publicly apologized to the protesters and said: “Vera Pizza will always be open to everyone.”

Human rights activist Susana Rafalli, who was part of the protest, said she was present because denouncing one incident of discrimination automatically denounces all.

“Venezuela is an extremely divided country, extremely wounded by exclusion, and we cannot allow that,” said Rafalli, who welcomed the construction of a space to “correct this and to start over as agreed.” EFE

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