No Country for Civil Rights

Amid the most terrible crisis Venezuela’s ever faced, anything not related to food or medicine might sound a little ambitious… That’s how we get to be – surprise! – the last country in the region in a matter that’s as much a right as any other.

Photo: Sin Etiquetas

The last few years have seen a dramatic development of equal rights for the LGBT community around the world, and Latin America has certainly done its part. Back in 2010, Argentina became the first country in the region to legalize homosexual marriage; today, it’s legal in Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, French Guyana and several Mexican States too. In other nations, like Chile, civil unions between same-sex couples are recognized, with a more complete legal framework in the way. Venezuela, as always in revolution, lags behind.

José Manuel Simons, a Venezuelan lawyer living in Chile and head of the legal process fighting for gender recognition in la Patria Grande, explains the issue in José González Vargas’ post for LatinoUSA:

Despite having won the case for parental rights, we continue without legal protection for couples, no civil unions nor same-sex marriages, and less so, anything related to gender identity.

This struggle is not exactly new, as José notes on his post. A Pride Parade has been celebrated annually since 2000 in Caracas, but like pretty much everything else, chavismo has tried to appropriate it, provoking political sectarianism and division within the LGBT cause utterly weakening it.

After the 2015 National Assembly election (in which transgender lawmaker Tamara Adrián was elected), many thought the time for LGBT rights to be finally discussed in our legislature would come. Even though we argued that the Parliament should discuss them simultaneously with other countless things on the turbulent political arena, the idea of seeing LGBT rights as something primermundista made sure the issue remained in oblivion. As Simons says in González Vargas’ piece:

There’s not one politician taking up the banner for our rights. Not from the so-called inclusive and revolutionary left, nor from so-called activist deputies.

Two years after that new Parliament, we know what happened. No democracy, no gender equality… not even a functional parliament.

Venezuela is a ruined country with critically needed economic and social reforms, but when it comes to Civil Rights, every lost minute means suffering for the disenfranchised.

Equal rights are part of the Venezuela that should be but isn’t.