What does the crisis in Venezuela mean for LGBTQ people?
Venezuela’s long-running political crisis appears to be continuing to drag on, with no real prospect of a resolution in sight.
Despite international support to recognise Juan Guaidó – the leader of the legislature – who declared himself President on 23 January 2019, President Nicolás Maduro is still holding onto power.
Venezuela’s ongoing political discontent has been further fuelled in recent months by skyrocketing hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of food and medicine. The economy has effectively collapsed. The United Nations estimates that over four 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.
As Venezuela’s economy continues to implode, and tensions rise, it’s predictable that the most vulnerable people in society are most at risk.
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.
At the moment, the particular crunch-point appears to be around access to HIV medication.
The Body Pro are reporting that people from Venezuela are moving to Colombia in order to seek access to HIV medication.
Approximately 10,000 people living with HIV have left Venezuela, but about 40% of Venezuelans living with the virus are still in their home country – according to Alberto Nieves of Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA during his presentation at the Community Forum ahead of the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science in Mexico City.
The conference heard that many of the migrants from Venezuela arrive in Colombia without the necessary authorisation, and don’t know how to access the medical services that they need and may not be able to access specialist HIV services – this forces them to try and obtain the medication that they need by presenting to Emergency care services of Colombia’s hospitals.