LGBTI activists chain themselves at Venezuela ombudsman’s office

CARACAS, 22 Nov 2022:

Three LGBTI activists chained themselves to benches in a protest yesterday outside the Ombudsman’s Office of Venezuela in this capital, where they demanded support for their community’s struggle for equal rights.

“We’ve exhausted all avenues – administrative, judicial. So we decided to intensify our demonstration and our protest. That’s why our (activists), starting today, are declaring themselves in resistance … they’ll be chained here until further notice,” said Richelle Briceño, spokeswoman for a protest involving around 10 people.

The three men who chained themselves to street furniture – including one individual in a wheelchair – will remain there until they are able to meet with ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz, whom the LGBTI community accuses of ignoring their concerns.

“As a collective, we’re threatening a hunger strike until the ombudsman fulfils his (obligations), which are to defend the population’s human rights,” Briceño said.

Human rights organisations have urged the Supreme Court to repeal an article of the Code of Military Justice that punishes homosexuality by up to three years in prison, yet Ruiz has made no pronouncement on that demand, she said.

Demonstrators also criticised the ombudsman for remaining silent in the face of transgender individuals’ inability to legally change their names to ones that correspond to their gender identity.

In addition, the activists recalled that a draft same-sex marriage bill was introduced in 2014 into Venezuela’s unicameral legislature but noted no further progress has been made since then and the Ombudsman’s Office has provided no support.

Yesterday’s “desperate measure” was taken amid silence from Venezuela’s government and Ruiz’s office, Briceño said, adding that the hope is to achieve some form of victory for the LGBTI community.