Crime & Justice

Venezuelan LGBTI activists stage protest to demand equal rights

Caracas, Nov 22 (EFE).- Three Venezuelan LGBTI activists on Tuesday have spent more than 24 hours chained together in front of the Ombudsman’s Office in Caracas to demand a statement of support for their community amid requests and demands for equal rights.

LGBTI activist and spokesperson Richelle Briceño told EFE that during the night the three men who had chained themselves together, one of them in a wheelchair, were pressured by officers of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) to stop their protest.

“There was a good bit of pressure on the part of the (police) … for them to leave. They were threatened with having their chains removed, with cutting their chains, because (the police said) that this is a security zone, and therefore their action is illegal,” she said.

Briceño added that other activists had come to the site to demonstrate their support, as well as to bring the protesters clean clothing and medicine, given that their clothes had gotten soaked in the rain that fell on Monday afternoon in the Venezuelan capital.

The activist said that the protest will be continued until Ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz, or another “significant” official, comes to the demonstration site to initiate a dialogue between the government and the protesters.

“The three boys, including one person with a … disability, are not ready to end their chaining. On the contrary, they’re threatening to launch a hunger strike in the coming hours if there’s no response from the Ombudsman’s Office or some other authority,” she said.

The demonstrators are demanding the nullification of an article in the military justice code penalizing homosexual behavior with up to three years in prison, a matter on which Ruiz has not commented.

In addition, they are asking for transsexuals to be able to change their names, a right that is enshrined in the 2009 Civil Register Law but which has not been facilitated by the authorities and, thus, some members of the LGBTI community are living with names that do not correspond to their gender.

The activists are also asking the National Assembly – Venezuela’s parliament – to discuss a bill on marriage equality introduced in 2014, although lawmakers have never undertaken to debate the measure.



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