Venezuela: Right-wing threatens marriage equality

Venezuelans participate in annual pride march. The banner reads: 'I am Venezuelan, I am a citizen, I am a mum, I am a profession

Former National Assembly member Vestalia Sampedro has officially filed the right-wing Movement for Sowing Right's opposition to same sex civil marriage in Venezuela. Sampedro cited “pro-family” as among the reasons for the conservative group's filing before the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ).

The group's actions come as the struggle for marriage equality and LGBTQI rights gains pace in Venezuela. In May, the TSJ moved to declare article 44 of Venezuela's civil code as unconstitutional. The clause explicitly stipulates that marriage is only legally valid between a man and woman in Venezuela, outlawing the possibility of same-sex marriage.

In July, Attorney-General Luisa Ortega also expressed a legal argument in support of transgender citizens' right to a legal identity in accordance with their sex and gender expressions.

The Movement for Sowing Right's legal request was accompanied by a protest on July 20 against same sex civil marriage and the right to change one's identity. The protest included members of the Evangelical church and other sectors of civil society, Ultimas Noticias said.

Sampedro said that “the constitution does not allow for same sex unions nor a new identity in suite with a sex change. Above all, the Magna Carta should be respected.”

Sampedro added that, “all Venezuelans should unite to defend the Venezuelan family” and build a campaign in “support of the family and Constitution”.

The group, part of the right-wing opposition to the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, considered it “strange” that the TSJ would review the legal request for transgendered Venezuelans to change their names in accordance to their gender.

In response, the attorney-general voiced her support for National Assembly member Tamara Adrian's legal request before the TSJ to recognise her name as a transwoman as legally legitimate. Adrian, of the opposition Popular Will Party, is not the first transgender person to demand a legal name change.

However, she is arguably the most high-profile transgender figure in the country as she is also the first transgender woman elected to public office in Venezuela.
“Each person is unique and unrepeatable and the right to identify is for yourself and not another,” Ortega said.

“It is contrary to human rights ... to require that the citizen Tomas Mariano Adrian Hernandez continue with a legal identity that does not correspond to the sex with which they identify. It is only from respect and recognition of their identity, and the reassignment of their legal sex with their psycho-social sex, will they be able to develop their personality, with the protection of rights, anchored in equality and non-discrimination for sex or gender expression.”

The attorney-general also said sexual reassignment surgery was not a requirement for a new legal identity. She stressed that the most important factor is one's self-identification in regards to sex and gender expression, as defended by international human rights law.

The TSJ's landmark decision in May came nearly three-and-a-half years since social movements officially submitted their proposal for same sex civil marriage to the National Assembly.

[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]

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