President Nicolás Maduro is still holding onto power, but there is growing international support to recognize Juan Guaidó – the leader of the legislature – who declared himself President on 23 January 2019.
Venezuela’s ongoing political discontent has been further fueled in recent months by skyrocketing hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of food and medicine. The BBC reports that over three million Venezuelans have emigrated from the country in recent years.
This crisis in Venezuela is affecting everyone in the country, but it’s worth remembering that the LGBTQ community in Venezuela is particularly vulnerable.
Homosexuality is not illegal – the last laws that could be used to persecute LGBTQ people were declared unconstitutional by the country’s Supreme Court in 1997. However there are no legal protections against discrimination based on sexuality.
But Venezuela is a very socially conservative country, and homophobia appears to be widely entrenched as a daily part of life.
I spoke with Luis – a young gay guy who left Venezuela to move to London.
We’re raised in a very macho culture. If you’re a gay man and you seem to others to be a little camp, you could be in great danger. You could be harassed by other ‘manly’ men, and you could also get beaten-up for being too feminine.
Venezuelan artist and activist Daniel Arzola – who left Venezuela to live in Chile – confirms that his experience was similar.
The most common homophobic format used by Venezuelans is mockery. Over the last 50 years, the media has been responsible for mocking LGBTQ people. In addition to this, the lack of sexual education creates a society that limits you to a ghetto, where you’re criticized if you express affection in public or act in any way outside of the sexist norm.
As Venezuela’s economy continues to implode, and tensions rise, it’s predictable that the most vulnerable people in society are most at risk.
Content of What does the crisis in Venezuela mean for LGBTQ people? republished with permission from Gareth Johnson
Originally from Australia, Gareth now lives in London. A non-smoker who loves to laugh, Gareth writes about all aspects of the LGBTQ experiences, with a particular passion for travel, sport, and films.