By Genesis Carrero Soto
Caracas, Jul 3 (EFE).- Activists, diplomats, mothers, young people, children and even dogs dressed in the colors of the LGBTI+ flag turned out on Sunday in the streets of Caracas to take part in a march called by the LGBTI+ community to close out Pride Month in Venezuela.
Thousands of people heeded the call to participate in the march, raising their voices to oppose discrimination in Venezuelan society, demand equal rights and lend their support to the various battles being waged in assorted areas by Venezuelan activists.
This was the 21st march the group has convened and, this time, the public was invited to not only support LGBTI+ rights but also to incorporate the idea that “much more unites us than divides us,” as former opposition lawmaker Tamara Adrian told EFE.
“We’re providing an example that has never been given in the country: the organizing committee for this march … is an absolutely plural committee in which there are Chavistas, dissident Chavistas, opposition members and dissident opposition members,” said Adrian, who is known for being the first transsexual legislator in Venezuela.
“Free motherly hugs,” wrote Margi Pulido on a sign she displayed as she marched through the capital streets from eastern Caracas to the downtown area.
Along with her daughter, a member of the LGBTI+ community, she spread love and joy among those who approached to read her message and said that her aim is none other than to provide “support” and show the importance of family members being empathetic to their loved ones’ decisions and orientations.
Her transgender daughter, Uziel, told EFE that Venezuela has a “retrograde” society and that she hopes to be able to “shout, be free” and to be a person without limitations.
Another mother at the march was Adriana Marin who, in the company of her younger daughter, marched through Caracas with the movement’s rainbow flag demanding equality and respect for her and for all her friends.
Her only desire is for her daughter “to always be safe and to be happy,” she said, urging Venezuelan parents to join the struggle of lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans persons.
This march “wouldn’t exist if (Venezuelan society) wasn’t homophobic … because heterosexuals don’t go out to march to fight for their rights … We’re all equal and we must respect each other and everyone should be free to love who they want to love,” Isabel Leal, another mother at the march, said.
Those who participated in the march recalled that in Venezuela a gay man cannot donate blood and a trans woman must identify herself legally with a name that doesn’t represent her, along with a long list of other prohibitions.
And – many of them wearing wigs, having painted their faces or just outfitted in simple garments – many of the marchers turned out to oppose the lack of these rights and the social exclusion many members of the LGBTI+ community endure.
That is the case of Liohan Delgado, a trans woman who said that it’s very tough to live as a trans person in Venezuela.
“Being trans in Venezuela is difficult because here the state doesn’t recognize the rights of people like us. There’s no response, they don’t care about us, there’s no social protection, there’s no healthcare, there are no rights in general … There’s not even the right to one’s identity. So here in Venezuela, you live without rights, without identity and without any options,” she said.
The head of the European Union’s mission in Venezuela, Rafael Dochao, joined the demonstration and said that European ambassadors in the country decided to take part because it’s a festive occasion but also a demand for the rights of the LGBTI+ community.
“It’s a basic thing to think that we’re here and we’re all in this world where there’s still a lot of discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ groups and so we want to raise our voices loudly and strongly to show the solidarity of the European Union for all these groups,” he told the media.
He noted that more than 70 countries still consider homosexuality to be a crime and in 12 nations it can be punished with the death penalty, although Venezuela is not among those groups.
“Venezuela isn’t there. Venezuela is much more progressive, but in all the European, Asian, African and Latin American countries, and of course in Venezuela, we have to keep moving forward,” he said.