Sunday, March 26, 2006

Moving foward in the fight against prejudice 

There was a very interesting article in Venezuelanalisis about the work to give gays and lesbians in Venezuela full rights and also to battle the scourge of AIDS:

At the January World Social Forum in Caracas, Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans and Maurice Farrell caught up with Ricardo Hung from the Alianza Lambda gay-rights organisation and Moises Rivera Lopez, the coordinator of the Sexual Riverside Network for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

Rivera Lopez is also employed by the mayor of metropolitan Caracas Juan Barreto to work on anti-homophobia campaigns. GLW also spoke to Marcel Quintana, the president of Consultants for Education and Health Venezuela (ASES), an HIV care group.

Hung explained that Lambda is part of a coalition of gay and lesbian groups that organises activities throughout the year. “In June we organise gay and lesbian rights forums, presentations and workshops, cinema screenings and other political meetings ending with a gay pride march.” Last August, on the international day of action against homophobia, Lambda “held a big protest in the Simon Bolivar plaza ... We took down the national flag and raised the rainbow flag.” In September, Lambda helps with a gay and lesbian film festival and with a December cultural festival.

According to Hung, “The new 1999 constitution includes no discrimination based on sexual orientation”, but there is a push to extend it to cover transgender discrimination as well.

“We are also campaigning for same-sex marriage rights”, Rivera Lopez said. “On December 28, Venezuela’s vice-president Vincent Rangel announced that a national referendum would be held to make same-sex marriage legal for the first time. Because referendums are expensive, he announced there will be other issues within it — abortion, for example. I think that the referendum will not go ahead this year because of the big push to win 10 million votes for Chavez for the December [presidential] elections. I think the referendum will be in 2007, named the 'Year of the battle of ideas’. This is a huge step forward for our rights.”
Read the rest here.

These are all important endevours which I have posted on before. The only thing I have to add is I think it will be more of an uphill battle than the article suggests. I hate to poor cold water on the optomism of these activists but Venezuela is still in many respects a very conservative society. For example, even in the Aporrea forums (for those who don't know those are the forums on the largest spanish language pro-Chavez website) many (most?) posters seemed to be opposed to the idea of legalizing abortion. And this is coming from hard core supporters of Chavez! So I think its anything but assured that these propositions would win in a referendum unless Chavez campeigns for them strongly. But we can always hope.


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