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Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's Official: No Gay Rights in Venezuela

Today, the Tribunal of Justice emitted a decree of interpretation of article 21 of National Constitution, and rejects the marriage or civil unions between same sex persons, also rejects the comparison of gay rights with the concubine heterosexual rights. The current Constitution established the marriage as a between a man and a woman.

With this decision, the Venezuelan tribunal of law, not only forbids gay marriage, but also forbids gay rights to protect their union legally and ask for heritage or pension rights, among other things. They said the sentence was based on the decision doesn't mean ("supposedly") discrimination by sexual orientation.

Part of the transcript of the sentence:
"...In consequence, it is a bad pretension the comparison between stable unions of persons of the same sex, respecting the marriage between a man and a woman, when the Constitution doesn't included same sex marriage on the terms of article 77.

The Court wants to point out that the Constitution's norm doesn't either forbids or condemned same sex de facto unions that found constitutional coverage on the fundamental right to free personality development, simply doesn't gives reinforced protection, which doesn't mean a discriminatory act based on sexual orientation, as it was explained..."
Completed sentence can be found in Spanish on the Tribunal of Justice site.

Gays have been officially barred from military service since 1998, but discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was outlawed in the 1999 Organic Labour Law. Also (as in many other countries) gays are forbidden to donate blood.

Since 2000, International Day of Gay Rights has been marked, and Venezuelans Gays celebrate their Gay Pride Day on June 1st. However, police harassment and homophobia among society remain as serious problems. Gays are often sought as a "joke", but there is also true that a pro-gay rights spirit has been increasing, specially among young people in the last decade.

Articles 21 and 77 of National Constitution establish:

Article 21: All persons are equal before the law, and, consequently:

1. No discrimination based on race, sex, creed or social standing shall be permitted, nor, in general, any discrimination with the intent or effect of nullifying or encroaching upon the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal terms, of the rights and liberties of every individual.

2. The law shall guarantee legal and administrative conditions such as to make equality before the law real and effective manner; shall adopt affirmative measures for the benefit of any group that is discriminated against, marginalized or vulnerable; shall protect in particular those persons who, because of any of the aforementioned circumstances, are in a manifestly weak position; and shall punish those who abuse or mistreat such persons.

3. People will only be officially addressed as Citizens, except for diplomatic forms.

4. No titles of nobility or hereditary distinctions shall be recognized.

Article 77: Marriage, which is based on free consent and absolute equality of rights and obligations of the spouses, is protected. A stable de facto union between a man and a woman which meets the requirements established by law shall have the same effects as marriage.

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