LGBT rights in Venezuela

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LGBT rights in Venezuela
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal
Military service Yes
Discrimination protections Originally protected in 1999, though removed due to pressure from the Catholic Church

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Venezuela may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Venezuela, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Legal status

Homosexuality is legal in Venezuela. The age of consent is equal at 18.[1]

Recognition of same-sex couples

There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples explicitly in the Venezuelan law. In 2003, a gay NGO called Union Afirmativa (Affirmative Union) submitted an Appeal to the Supreme Court for legal recognition of economic rights (pensions, inheritance, social security, common household, etc)for same-sex partners. The ruling, issued on February 28, 2008 despite recognizing that "same sex partners enjoy all of the rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights- they do have not special protection similar to concubinage or marriage between a man and a woman, that is, in the same terms than heterosexual partners have. Notwithstanding this, the National Assembly is the government body with the mandate to legislate to protect such rights for same-sex partners. The decision also indicated that these rights were covered under the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

On March 20, 2009, Chamber of Deputies member Romelia Matute announced that the National Assembly would explicitly legalize same-sex unions and recognize them as asociaciones de convivencia (association by cohabitation)[2] as part of the Gender and Equity Organic Law [3]

Anti-discrimination legislation

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was outlawed in the 1999 Labour Organic Law (Ley Orgánica de Trabajo).

In the process leading up to the adoption of the new 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, anti-discrimination provisions were proposed, however due to forceful opposition from the Catholic Church, they were dropped from the final draft. In 2001, there were renewed attempts to include them in the Constitution. In 2002, Current President Hugo Chávez voiced his regret for their exclusion, signaling that they may be included in future rounds of constitutional reform.

The Venezuelan constitutional referendum in 2007 would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation but the constitution was narrowly defeated due to fears that Chavez was using it to become president for life.[4]

There is a pending bill against sexual discrimination to be introduced into National Assembly by several LGBT organizations next year.

Living conditions

Venezuela is home to a thriving gay community. Since 2000, International Day of Gay Rights has been marked, while recently the government began participating in Gay Pride Day for the first time. However, police harassment and homophobia in the workplace remain as serious problems.

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