Social Issues

LGBT+ collective calls for new laws and hate-crime resolution in Bolivia

La Paz, May 17 (EFE).- Access to work, justice, education, health and housing and an end to hate crimes were the demands of the LGBT+ community in Bolivia highlighted during the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Monday.

“Gradually we are changing society, but we still have a long way to go,” Luna Humérez, president of LGBT+ organization Otraf, told EFE.

This group demonstrated in the Plaza Murillo in La Paz, headquarters of the government, requesting public policies to safeguard their rights, and displaying posters of their bodies with messages denouncing violence.

For Luna, rejection based on psychological, physiological and religious criteria continues despite the efforts of the groups, which ask for full social acceptance.

However, the protesters’ biggest concern is hate crimes, which have resulted in more than 65 deaths in the last decade, according to Laura Álvarez, a member of Otraf.

“The murders have a very strong charge because they carry stab wounds, they carry hangings, and this tells us that there is hatred,” Álvarez told EFE.

The activist referred mainly to the murders of two young transgender people in El Alto in 2018 and the most recent in February this year in Cochabamba, for which investigations are yet to find those responsible.

Their request is that “the penal system in Bolivia typifies these hate crimes” and that this would serve to prevent those deaths from going unpunished, said Álvarez.

“We reaffirm our commitment to work for equality. We are a government that will always ensure that fundamental rights are guaranteed and that the CPE is complied with, which prohibits all forms of discrimination,” President Luis Arce wrote on Twitter.

A step in the right direction occurred in December last year when the national civic registry service (Serecí) recognized the civil union of two men after they won an appeal before the country’s justice system.

However, despite efforts for inclusion, the situation of LGBT+ people is still difficult in terms of access to work, housing, health services and education, Álvarez said.

“People have gotten used to seeing us on the streets, to seeing us as sex workers when we have skills,” explained the activist.

For example, Estéfany Brito had to leave her family in Santa Cruz to live a different life with her new identity in another region, and takes up to sex work to survive.

“That is not a quality of life (for me),” said Brito, who says there are professionals in the LGBT+ community who are denied work space and opportunities.

A pressing concern is for access to housing since many are forced to rent spaces for short periods of time or request favors from friends so that they have somewhere to stay.

In this context, the Ombudsman’s Office issued a statement on Monday in which it asked the various levels of the State to “guarantee the full exercising of the rights of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.”

So far this year, this entity has received 36 complaints related to the rights to health, non-discrimination, access to justice and personal integrity. EFE

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