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News: Gender and Sexuality | Social Movements

Venezuelans Call for Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage UPDATED

Merida, 8th January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan LGBTI advocates have called on the country's National Assembly (AN) to vote in favour of a bill that would allow same-sex marriage.

The proposed legislation will be introduced to the AN on 31 January, and is backed by the Equal Venezuela Civil Association (ACVI). The ACVI says it has collected over 18 thousand signatures from Venezuelans supporting marriage equality, and has the support of more than forty social movements and organisations from across the country.

“The main purpose of the bill is to have equal rights, legitimise our close relationship with the [Venezuelan] state, to protect our families and to achieve respect for all types of love and forms of families,” an ACVI spokesperson told VA by email.

“The bill will succeed to the extent that the groups endorsing the project do not lose enthusiasm,” the ACVI stated.

Equal marriage rights already have the support of some legislators. Last month a member of the AN's family committee Dinorah Figuera called on lawmakers to reform marriage laws, and for greater awareness of LGBTI issues.

“As a member of the family committee I make the call to members of the PSUV; it's necessary to pass a law respecting sexual diversity in 2014,” Figuera stated.

According to the ACVI, a total of four lawmakers signed their petition.

However, the ACVI will “constantly help” and “monitor closely” the political “education” of AN members, according to their spokesperson.

“We must not forget that they are people who were born and raised in a hetro-socio-cultural system,” the ACVI representative stated.

Yet this isn't the first time the government has been pressured over LGBTI rights.

The 1999 constitution was originally set to explicitly outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the proposal was dropped after the Catholic Church railed against it.

Similar anti-discrimination laws were again included among a slew of reforms to the 1999 constitution that were proposed in 2007. The reforms failed to pass a national referendum.

In 2009, a draft of the Organic Law for Gender Equity and Equality also included anti-discrimination measures. The law further included recognition of civil unions.

The draft of the law passed the first round of discussion at the AN in July 2009, but has been stalled since.

“There are [currently] four specific laws protecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, transsexuals and intersexuals: the Law of Popular Power for Municipalities, the Labour Law, the Leases Act and the Banking Act; which in different articles have been protecting us against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” the ACVI stated.

However, while both the Chavez and Maduro governments pledged to raise awareness of sexual diversity, the ACVI spokesperson said the country still lacks “sound public policies to assist, guide and protect the rights of the LGBTI community”.

“There is...no reliable information to give figures on rights violations there,” the spokesperson stated, arguing that the LGBTI community often faces “invisible” violence.

Last August the ruling socialist party, the PSUV itself came under fire when legislator Pedro Carreno labelled Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles a “homosexual” and a “faggot”. Carreno subsequently apologised, and President Nicolas Maduro pledged that his party “will never be homophobic”.

In October, head of the opposition aligned Movimiento Proinclusión de Voluntad Popular, Tamara Adrian described the situation for LGBTI Venezuelans as “unacceptable”.

“In the nineteenth century the holding of slaves was natural, in the twentieth century is was that women didn't have rights – prejudice was the law. The same has happened with the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Adrian told Union Radio.

However, according to the ACVI the 2013-2019 national plan authored by former president Hugo Chavez is a “highlight” of government policy.

“The plan...declared that the law and the Venezuelan government are challenged to take concrete steps in terms of ensuring the greatest amount of social security, the greatest amount of political stability and the greatest happiness, in building an egalitarian and just society that promotes the right to non-discrimination and protection of socially vulnerable groups and promote debate and reflection of the rights of the gender-diverse community,” the representative stated.

Published on Jan 9th 2014 at 2.44am