Caracas, June 12, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) has officially accepted a petition submitted by a transgender rights group to allow name and gender changes in the South American country.
In a decision published on June 1, the top court confirmed that it would admit a legal request filed in April by five activists with the organization Divas of Venezuela, requesting that the TSJ recognize the right to “the identification and expression of self-perceived gender”.
The petition was submitted under article 20 of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, which stipulates that Venezuelans have the right to the “free development of their personality”.
According to the text of the ruling, the Supreme Court accepted the group’s argument that the inhumane and derisory treatment they would suffer as a result of not being able to change their names and gender would be a violation of the constitutional provision, as well as of other legislation which prohibits cruel treatment.
The court ruled that it would assess each of the five activists’ cases on an individual basis, and requested copies of the claimants’ marital status, birth certificate and a psychological and psychiatric medical report within the next two weeks.
“We congratulate this TSJ decision and we will fulfill all of the demands outlined in the decision to achieve the goals that we in the trans community have set for ourselves,” claimant and transgender lawyer, Richelle Briceño, told Venezuelanalysis.
“We would expect no less given that we were simply making use of the constitutional principles that defend the rights that correspond to us as Venezuelan citizens,” she added.
The possibility that the five claimants might be able to change their name and gender sets a significant precedent in Venezuela, where laws do not explicitly contemplate this essential aspect of transgender rights.
Although the right for citizens to change their gender is not included in current legislation, Venezuelan law does allow for citizens to change their names. Nonetheless activists have accused state institutions such as the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the Migration and Passport Office (SAIME) of consistently failing to respond to their requests to do so.
The activists are hopeful that the top court’s latest ruling will put pressure on other state institutions to follow suite – especially given its stipulation that the “Ombudsman’s Office, the Attorney General of the Republic, the Civic Registration Commission and Electoral Department of the CNE” should be notified of the decision.
The ruling has also been welcomed by other LGBTQ rights groups such as Egalitarian Venezuela, which hailed the decision as an “advance towards the recognition of the human rights of the transgender and transexual population, which has been historically and socially discriminated against”.
Nonetheless, the group criticized the court’s request for a medical report on behalf of the claimants as prioritizing medical authorisation over the words of activists themselves.
“It shows that people who request the recognition of their gender identity require a prior report effectively establishing that they are who they feel they are,” the group said in a statement on its page.
The admittance of the suit follows an historic victory for the LGBTQ movement last December when the Supreme Court upheld the equal rights of children born to same-sex families.