Venezuelan Police Chief Apologizes for Homophobic Comments

Venezuelan politician Freddy Bernal made a public apology this weekend after a live television interview on Wednesday in which he said homosexual police officers should conceal their “sexual appetites” in the workplace.

By Z.C. Dutka

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Freddy Bernal being interviewed on Globovision. (Globovision)
Freddy Bernal being interviewed on Globovision. (Globovision)
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Santa Elena, March 24th, 2015. (venezuelanalysis.com)- Venezuelan politician Freddy Bernal made a public apology this weekend after a live television interview on Wednesday in which he said homosexual police officers should conceal their “sexual appetites” in the workplace.

While insisting that gay men are welcome to join the forces, Bernal told the Globovision reporter that if such an officer were to “wear a pink shirt, or wear lipstick,” it would go against “Venezuelan culture.”

After an onslaught of criticism from grassroots groups, Bernal published a formal statement on the community news site aporrea.org, in which he thanked the LGBT community for schooling him in respect and equality.

“The Bolivarian revolution changed my life and made me a better human being,” Bernal wrote. “Chavez taught us about unity within diversity, about uniting Afro-[Descendants], women, peasants, workers, and diverse sexualities in a single struggle against oppression…. I offer my sincere apology to anyone who may have felt offended by my words.”

The PSUV politician became a policeman in the 1980s, serving under the currently incarcerated Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma during the neo-liberal period that preceded Chavez. The era, referred to popularly as the 4th republic, was marked by discriminatory police violence. After the 1989 Caracazo riots, during which over 3000 Venezuelans were killed by security forces, Bernal reportedly began to seek out freedom fighters within the ranks, and eventually participated in the November 1992 coup attempt following Hugo Chavez’s arrest.

Shortly after Chavez’s election in 1999, Bernal was elected mayor of Caracas, a post he held for eight years.

In late 2014, the former mayor was asked by president Nicolas Maduro to lead a revolutionary transformation of the country’s police forces, and was named president of an executive commission designated for the task. The commission has primarily worked to eliminate corruption within the national police force and criminal intelligence organizations.