Vance Center Organizes Dialogue on Rights of LGBTQ+ Persons in Venezuela

November 2023

As part of its ongoing efforts to bolster dialogue and advocacy on LGBTQ+ rights in Venezuela, the Vance Center coordinated a dialogue with the IACHR Rapporteur and Venezuelan civil society organizations.

On November 22, the Vance Center organized and led a meeting between Venezuelan human rights organizations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual, and Intersex Persons, Roberta Clarke, to address urgent issues related to LGBTQ+ rights, including violence against transgender individuals. 

In the meeting, the representatives of civil society groups, including national organizations Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia contra LGBTQIA+, Defiende Venezuela, and Caleidoscopio Humano, and from Zulia state, noted several recent incidents of deadly violence targeting transgender women. The cases included a transgender woman killed by an unidentified attacker in Caracas on November 7, and a transgender woman who was fatally shot in public by unknown people in a car in Aragua state on November 11, just four days later. On November 14, the organizations also received reports of death threats against two young trans women in Aragua state. The civil society representatives noted that these incidents occurred in different states of Venezuela, in the context of increasing hate speech against LGBTQ+ people and a lack of public policies to protect trans people.  

Commissioner Clarke expressed her deep concern about these incidents, emphasizing the need for effective communication and advocacy to protect LGBTQ+ rights in Venezuela. She called for a follow-up report and agreed to participate in future activities focused on awareness campaigns.   

Direct reports from civil society organizations, like the ones provided in this dialogue, are particularly important in contexts like Venezuela, where the IACHR has limited access to information about the realities of human rights violations. These reports were especially timely for inclusion in forthcoming IACHR country reports, which will analyze the landscape of human rights, including LGBTQ rights, in the region. The November 22 meeting also resulted in creation of a proactive strategy for sharing and verifying facts and findings between civil society groups and the IACHR office, and setting up a direct channel of communication between the parties about LBGTQ+ rights in Venezuela. 

Through this initiative, the Vance Center aims to enhance engagement between Commissioner Clarke and Venezuelan civil society organizations and support strategies to collaborate on effective communication related to LGBTQ+ rights issues in Venezuela.

This effort, which acknowledges the role of the Commissioner’s office as a pivotal authority on LGBTQ+ rights in the region, forms part of a broader strategy to promote and defend LGBTQ+ rights worldwide. The Vance Center’s global efforts on LGBTQ+ rights have included partnerships with Asistencia Legal para la Diversidad Sexual (ALDES) in El Salvador, and with Human Rights Watch to challenge Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law and conduct research into laws related to gender-affirming care across the globe.