Country Report for use in refugee claims based on persecution by benbenzhou


     Country Report for use in refugee claims based on persecution relating to
     sexual orientation and HIV+ status

     Produced: July 30, 2009

     Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity research –
     International Human Rights Program
     University of Toronto

This document was prepared by law students and highlights information about publicly-accessible country
conditions available at the time it was prepared. It is not exhaustive, nor is it updated on a regular basis. The
information provided here is not a substitute for legal advice or legal assistance, and the International Human
Rights program at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law cannot provide such advice or assistance.
                                                     T able of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
L egislation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
C ase L aw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Government Reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Non-governmental O rganization Reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Media Reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
This dossier provides a summary of the case law in Canada regarding refugee claims
made  on:  1)  the  basis  of  the  claimant’s  HIV  status  and  2)  the  basis  of  the  claimant’s 
sexual orientation. Although the former addresses claims without regard to the
claimant’s  country  of  origin,  the  latter  focuses  on  claims  made  by  Venezuelans.    The 
dossier then provides the human rights situation for HIV+ individuals and LGBT
individuals in Venezuela through a summary of governmental reports, reports by Non-
Governmental Organizations, scholarly literature and media reports.
Case Law: s. 97(1)(b)(iv) and claims related to health care
The health care exclusion in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires that the
personal risk to the life of the claimant is not caused by their home country’s inability to 
provide adequate health or medical services. The leading case on the health care
exclusion appears to be Covarrubias v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration) [2007] 3 F.C.R. 169 which distinguishes between a country that is unable to
provide care and one which is unwilling to provide health care for an unjustified or
persecutory reason. Covarrubias states that while the former is excluded by s.
97(1)(b)(iv), the exclusion will not operate when the latter is the case. A country, for
example, which deliberately allocates insufficient resources in a deliberate attempt to
persecute  or  discriminate  or  for  some  other  “illegitimate”  reason,  will  satisfy  this 
In Contreras v. Canada (Minister of Public Safety and E mergency Preparedness) [2009]
F.C.J. No. 648, an HIV+ Guatemalan claimant was obliged to show that treatment was
unavailable or denied on grounds of persecution. Gorzsas v. Canada (Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration) [2009] F.C.J. No. 561 established that the Board should not
focus on the availability of treatment alone but should consider other factors such as:
employment, educational, general health care and in-group discrimination. An applicant,
Gorzsas states, need not prove a “sustained or systemic denial of core human rights” but 
instead that his personal circumstances put him at risk. Diaz v. Canada (Minster of
Citizenship and Immigration) [2008] 75 Imm. L.R. (3d) 225 determined that the Board
must address whether the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS impeded delivery of treatment and
services by staff and whether systemic barriers as regards HIV testing and employment
amount to persecution. Ramirez v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)
[2008] F.C.J. 1028 requires the Board to address discrimination from medical personnel
and employment discrimination, as well as whether cumulative effect of discrimination
amounts to persecution. In Leudjeu v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)
[2007] 164 A.C.W.S.  (3d)  389,  when  the  Board  determines  that  a  “less  than  ideal” 
situation does not expose individuals to persecution, that decision will not be subject to
judicial review. Travers v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration [2006] 53 Imm. L.R.
(3d) 400 held that that the correct approach to s. 97(1)(b)(iv) was to determine 1) whether
the claimant’s life would be at risk and 2) whether the health care exclusion applies.  In 
Travers, it was also determined that the availability of some treatment did not establish
that the claimant’s life would not be at risk.  In  J.O. v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship
and Immigration) [2004] 41 Imm. L.R. (3d) 305, the Board was criticized for failing to
address issues such as denial of hospital treatment, inadequate treatment and employment
Case Law: Venezuelan claims made on the basis of sexual orientation
Although there is little recent case law on homosexual Venezuelans, some decisions
before the Board in the 1990s were positive. In B.W.L. (Re) [1997] C.R.D.D. No. 316, an
Argentine citizen who had lived in Venezuela for a time was deemed unable to live
openly as a homosexual and unable to avail himself of state protection based on
documentary evidence showing a long history of gay bashing and reports of arrests of
young, effeminate gay men. The claim in C.L.Q. (Re) [1996] C.R.D.D. No. 145 was also
successful on the basis of documentary evidence of extreme physical violence against
LGBT persons and police harassment of LGBT persons; the Board rejected the existence
of an Internal Flight Alternative. The claimant in J.J.Y. (Re) [1996] D.S.S.R. No. 50 was
also successful on the basis of having been interrogated, humiliated, beaten and insulted
twice in the span of three years by police. In A.(G.D.) (Re) [1995] C.R.D.D. No. 92, the
claimant had a well-founded fear of persecution based on documents establishing poor
police treatment of homosexuals and their subjection to harassment and intimidation.
The Board granted the claim in N.(O.I.) (Re) [1995] C.R.D.D. No. 112 of a transgender
Venezuelan on the basis of documentation attesting to the hostility of society to LGBT
persons, the failure of police to treat LGBT victims seriously and the participation of
police in rights abuses. The claimant in X.M.U. (Re) [1995] C.R.D.D. No. 146 was
successful on the basis of documentary evidence on the persecution of Venezuelan gays;
although the claimant was criticized for failing to seek state protection, they accepted that
homosexuals might not be assured of protection in Venezuela.
Documentary evidence on the human rights situation of LGBT or HIV + Venezuelans
Although English-language documentation on the human rights situation of LGBT or
HIV+ Venezuelans is scare, a review of governmental and non-governmental
organization reports, the academic literature and media reports reveals:
   Workplace discrimination and refusal of access to government health services for
    HIV+ individuals is widespread
   Non-consensual HIV testing is a frequent condition of employment and employers
    successfully avoid prohibitions on such practices
   HIV+ Venezuelans experience frequent rights violations or inhumane and degrading
    treatment at the hands of police officers
   Government agencies have failed to protect the rights of HIV+ people
   Despite a pronouncement by the Supreme Court of Venezuela that ARV therapy for
    HIV+ Venezuelans is a basic human right, responsible government agencies deliver
    inconsistent and inadequate treatment which seriously affects the quality of life for
    HIV+ people
   LGBT Venezuelans face discrimination, occupy a precarious position in Venezuelan
    society and are, because they fear reprisal, reluctant to report rights abuses
   LGBT persons are at a substantially higher risk in small towns or cities and rural
   LGBT Venezuelans are frequently assaulted, abused and murdered and suffer
    employment discrimination
   Rights abuses against LGBT persons are not vigorously investigated
   There are gay-friendly venues in Caracas and growing numbers attend Pride parades
   Certain governmental programs have become open to LGBT issues but government
    support remains discreet and inconsistent
   Law enforcement and agencies of justice have little legitimacy in the eyes of
    Venezuelan LGBT persons
   Police have engaged in illegal searches, detentions, the extortion of and beating of
    LGBT persons
   In 2003 in Caracas, there were 312 complaints related to the violation of human rights
    of LGBT persons by police lodged with an NGO; only 5% were lodged with
    authorities due to a fear of reprisal, fear of publicizing sexuality or lack of familiarity
    with the complaints process
   Transsexuals are subject to extreme violence at the hands of state actors
   Transsexual rights activists have been subject to detention and harassment by police

                                    I: L egislation: C anada
1. Immigration and Refugee Protection Act , R.S. C . 2001, c. 27, s. 97(1)(b)(iv).
97(1) A person in need of protection is a person in Canada whose removal to their
country or countries of nationality, or if they do not have a country of nationality, they
country of former habitual residence, would subject them personally
. . . (b) to a risk to their life or to a risk of cruel and usual treatment or punishment if
. . . (iv) the risk is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate health or
medical care.
                                    I I: C ase L aw: C anada
1. S. 97(1)(b)(iv) and H I V .
F ederal Court of Canada
(a) Covarrubias v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2007] 3 F. C .R.
Linden J.A. held s. 97(1)(b)(iv) should be “broadly interpreted, so that only in rare cases 
would the onus on the applicant be met” (31).  On a balance of probabilities, claimants 
must  establish  there  is  “personal  risk  to  his  or  her  life”  that  was  not  “caused  by  the 
inability of his or her country to provide adequate health care” (31).  S. 97(1)(b) includes
situations where foreign governments allocate “limited public funds in a way that obliges
some of its less prosperous citizens to defray part or all of their medical expenses” (38).
However,  s.  97(1)(b)(iv)  “leaves open the possibility for protection where an applicant
can show that he faces a personalized risk to life on account of his country's unjustified
unwillingness to provide him with adequate medical care, where the financial ability is
present. For example, where a country makes a deliberate attempt to persecute or
discriminate against a person by deliberately allocating insufficient resources for the
treatment and care of that person's illness or disability, as has happened in some countries
with patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, that person may qualify under the section, for
this would be refusal to provide the care and not inability to do so. However, the
applicant would bear the onus of proving this fact.” (39).  Linden J.A. concluded that if 
an  individual  is  denied  health  care  for  an  “illegitimate”  (for  example  “persecutorial”) 
reason, the exclusion may not operate (41).

(b) Contreras v. Canada (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)
[2009] F. C .J. No. 648.
The Applicant was an HIV+ Guatemalan citizen. Heneghan J. determined that an
applicant must show that medical treatment in his home country is unavailable or denied
on grounds of persecution to HIV+ homosexuals.
(c) Gorzsas v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2009] F. C .J. No.
Teitelbaum D.J. held that, in assessing the risks faced by an HIV+ applicant, focusing
treatment available alone while ignoring issues related to employment, education, general
health care and in-group discrimination is unreasonable (22-26). Moreover, an applicant
will not have to prove the inadequacy of an entire health care system just that his personal
circumstances  put  him  at  risk;  nor  is  “a  sustained  or  systemic  denial  of  core  human 
rights” essential to the establishment of personal risk under the IRPA (27-28).
Teitelbaum D.J. also cited the three legal principles relevant to a consideration of
cumulative discrimination: 1) persecution is the harassment or affliction of an individual
with  repeated  acts  of  cruelty  or  annoyance  etc.  2)  “in cases where the evidence
establishes a series of actions characterized to be discriminatory, and not persecutory,
there is a requirement to consider the cumulative nature of that conduct” and 3) “it is an
error of law for the RPD not to consider the cumulative nature of the conduct directed
against a claimant” (34).  An analysis of the cumulative effects of discrimination must go 
beyond  “bare  acknowledgement  that  the  individual  had  these  risk  factors”  and  canvass 
specifically the personal risks faced by an individual baring all these characteristics (36).
(d) Aragorn v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2008] 77 Imm. L .R.
(3d) 287.
The IRB should not concentrate its analysis on one specific incident alleged by the
applicant and his failure to seek state protection from the threat of retaliation (11). A
PRAA officer should not assume the IRB has conducted a complete risk assessment (12).

(e) Diaz v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2008] 75 Imm. L .R.
(3d) 225.
The IRB failed to address whether the stigmatization of HIV+ Mexicans impeded the
delivery of treatment and services by medical staff and whether system barriers related to
HIV testing and employment amounted to persecution on a balance of probabilities. The
Board ought also to consider the applicant’s socio-economic status in relation to his HIV
status as well his dearth of family support in a country where many HIV+ individuals rely
on their families for care.

(f) Ramirez v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2008] F. C .J. 1028.
Gauthier J. criticized the Board for failing to address allegations that HIV+ patients face
discrimination from medical personnel in the provision of care and services and that
HIV+ persons would face discrimination in employment (even though evidence was
adduced to show Mexican employers conduct texting and will dismiss or refuse to hire
infected person). Gauthier J. also criticized the Board for failing to address whether the
cumulative effect of the discrimination faced by the applicants could amount to

(g) Leudjeu v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2007] 164 A . C. W .S.
(3d) 389.
A PRRA officer will not be patently unreasonable where he or she reviews all the risks of
discrimination alleged by the claimant but still determines that the less-than-ideal
situation for HIV-infected individuals in Cameroon does not expose them to persecution.
(h) Dia v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration [2006] 160 A . C. W .S. (3d)
“The  officer  did  not  specifically  deal  with  HIV. However, under section 97 of the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a risk caused by an inability of a country to
provide adequate health or medical care does not constitute a risk to life or a risk of cruel
and unusual treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the record shows that HIV treatment
is available in Zambia, particularly in urban areas. She would be returning to Lusaka.”
(i) Travers v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration [2006] 53 Imm. L .R. (3d) 300.
A claimant from Zimbabwe sought protection as a convention refugee under s. 96 of the
IRPA and as a person in need of protection under s. 97 of the IRPA. His convention
refugee claim was based upon evidence of stigma, discrimination and mistreatment of
persons in Zimbabwe suffering from HIV/AIDS. As a person in need of protection, Mr.
Travers claimed that, should he return to Zimbabwe, he would face a risk to life caused
by the unwillingness of the government to provide adequate care.
According to Barnes J., “the correct approach to the application of section 97 of the IRPA
in a context like this one is to first decide if there is sufficient evidence to establish that
an applicant's life would be at risk and then to determine if the health care exclusion
applies” (18). Barnes J. held that “the fact that some level of health care would not be
denied  .  .  .  does  not  establish  that  his  life  would  not  be  at  risk”  (19).    Following 
Covarrubias,  Barnes  J.  was  “not satisfied that the section 97(1)(b)(iv) exclusion is so
wide that it would preclude from consideration all situations involving a person's inability
to access health care in his country of origin. Where access to life-saving treatment would
be denied to a person for persecutorial reasons not otherwise caught by section 96 of the
IRPA, a good case can be made out for section 97 protection” (27).
(j) De-Robles v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2005] 148
A . C. W .S. (3d) 299.
The  judge  agreed  with  the  Board’s  doubt  of  the  credibility  of  an  HIV+  Argentine’s 
alleged fears of persecution based on his HIV status.

(k) Mendez v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration ) [2005] 42 Imm. L R.
(3d) 130.
Campbell J. determined that a PRRA officer who refused to consider evidence
concerning the persecution of HIV+ homosexuals in Mexico was patently unreasonable.
(l) J.O. v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2004] 41 Imm. L .R. (3d)
Shore  J.  criticized  the  Board’s  ignoring  of  documentary  evidence  giving  examples  of 
HIV+ persons in Nigeria being denied hospital treatment, given inadequate treatment and
experiencing employment discrimination.  
2.  Homosexuals and Venezuela 
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 
(a) R.M.W. [1998] C.R.D.D. No. 76. 
The claimant was a homosexual Venezuelan from Caracas who had lost a job because he 
did not hide his sexuality and latterly had to maintain secrecy about his sexual identity in 
order  to  preserve  subsequent  positions.    He  had  also  experienced  beatings,  detentions, 
arbitrary  fines  and  robbery  by  police;  extortion  from  private  actors;  and,  beatings  and 
blackballing by a former lover who wanted to maintain the secrecy of their relations. 
The Board doubted the credibility of the claimant’s account of his abuses at the hands of 
a  powerful  former  lover.    The  report  noted  that,  with  respect  to  gays  and  lesbians, 
“Venezuela’s  human  rights  record  is  mixed”  (30).    While  homosexuality  is  more 
tolerated in Caracas, homosexuals are treated harshly elsewhere in the country and abuses 
do occur at the hands of security forces (30).  The Board doubted, given the incredulity of 
his description of his former love affair, the veracity of his account of police abuse (30). 
(b) B.W.L. (Re) [1997] C.R.D.D. No. 316. 
Here,  the  claimant  was  Argentine  but  had  been  sent  to  Venezuela  by  his  father  and 
subsequently returned when family members in Venezuela learned of his sexual identity 
(7, 10).  In Argentina, the claimant had been raped and detained by police and feared the 
culture of machismo therein. 
The  Board  that  the  claimant  would  not  be  able  to  live  openly  as  a  homosexual  in 
Argentina  and  nor  would  he  be  able  to  avail  himself  of  state  protection.    Although 
homosexuality  is  not  illegal  per  se,  documentary  evidence  shows  a  long  history  of  gay 
bashing.  Although there are review boards that prevent police from arbitrarily detaining 
LGBT  persons,  there  was  no  evidence  that  such  boards  had  been  implemented.    The 
Board was also persuaded by reports of the arrest of young, effeminate, gay men under 
Article 78 (Offenses Against Public Modesty). 
(c) C.R.H. (Re) [1997] C.R.D.D. No. 178. 
The Venezuelan claimant alleged that he had been denied the right to serve in the military 
and  had  been  verbally  harassed  and  detained  by  police.    He  had  a  relationship  with  an 
army  colonel  who  allegedly  persecuted  and  attempted  to  murder  him  when  the 
relationship ended.  The claimant fled to Caracas without success and then Valencia.  In 
January 1994, he was arrested in a raid on a gay bar. 
The Board doubted the claimant was homosexual based on his lack of knowledge about 
homosexuals in Venezuela nor did the Board find his account of the relationship with the 
colonel plausible. 
(d) E.N.U. (Re) [1997] C.R.D.D. No. 67. 
The Board doubted the claimant’s allegation that he was actually gay. “The remainder of 
his testimony regarding his sexual identity and his subsequent homosexual activities was 
vague and generalized, e.g., dressing up in his sisters' clothes when he was 10; cruising a 
park in San Cristobal; a short­term secret liaison in Nueva Esparta. He knew little about
the  situation  of  gays  in Venezuela, information  which  the  panel  would  expect  him  to 
know if he was aware of his own sexual orientation since he was a teenager” (13). 
(e) C.L.Q. (Re) [1996] C.R.D.D. No. 145. 
The claimant was a lesbian from Venezuela who had been detained by police, threatened 
with rape and sexually touched.

The Board accepted evidence from authoritative sources showing the subjection of
homosexuals to police harassment and violence and detention of gays under the Loy
Sobre Vagos y Maleantes (Law of Vagrants and Crooks) (16). The Board noted that the
dearth of documentary evidence on lesbians in Venezuela could be attributed to the
overall invisibility of the group (17). There were accounts of a Caracas couple being held
at gunpoint by police, extortion, rape in detention and extreme physical violence against
both gay men and women. The Board also determined that there was no viable Internal
Flight Alternative in Venezuela.

(f) J.J.Y . (Re) [1996] D.S.S.R. No. 50.

The  claimant  was  a  homosexual  with  citizenship  in  Columbia  and  Venezuela.      The 
Board  determined:  “La  preuve  présentée  révèle  que  le  revendicateur  a  été  l'objet  de 
persécution de la part des autorités vénézuéliennes à cause de son orientation sexuelle et 
de son implication au sein du comité exécutif du groupe social "la Fondation Vie pour la 
vie"  et  dans  le  cadre  du  programme  Action  Sida combinée  à  sa  participation  dans  ce 
contexte,  de  dénonciations  contre  la  corruption  et  la  fraude perpétrée  par  des  élus 
municipaux”  (6).    The  claimant  had  been  interrogated,  humiliated,  beaten  and  insulted 
twice in the span of three years by metropolitan police for his activist activities (6).  The 
Board  also  noted  the  corruption  of  municipal  officials  and  the  precarious  situation  of 
homosexuals  in  Venezuela  (7,  13).    It  also  noted  the  application  of  the  Law  On 
Vagabonds and Criminals to homosexuals. 
(g) A. (G.D.) (Re) [1995] C.R.D.D. No. 92. 
The  claimant  was  from  Caracas  and  a  member  in  a  gay  activist  group.    He  had  been 
arrested and harassed by police several times and also dismissed from his work position 
when police revealed his sexual identity to his employer. 
The  Board  accepted  that  the  claimant  had  well­founded  fear  of  persecution  based  on 
documents  showing  political  instability,  high  levels  of  corruption,  serious  human  rights 
abuses by police and failure to punish these abusers as well as victimization of activists.  
In  addition,  the  Board  accepted  that  the  situation  of  homosexuals  was  “very  poor”  and 
that  homosexuals  were  subject  to  police  harassment  and  intimidation.    They  were  also 
detrained  under  the  country’s  Vagrants  and  Criminals  Law  and,  in  prison,  subject  to 
serious abuses. 
(h) N. (O.I.) (Re) [1995] C.R.D.D. No. 112 

The claimant, a transgender female from Venezuela, was deemed a Convention refugee.
The claimant had been detained by police, subject to extortion and shot with a pellet gun.
The Board accepted documentary evidence on police abuse (raids, beatings, public
humiliation and arbitrary detention) and general threats to the lives of transgendered
persons from non-state actors.

According to the Board “documentary evidence portrays a society hostile to homosexuals
and even more hostile to transvestites and transsexuals. We note that this documentary
evidence corroborates the claimant's testimony that police do not take complaints of by
transsexuals and homosexuals seriously and do not even attempt to make a genuine effort
to provide protection to homosexuals. Indeed, the agents of persecution are often state
authorities themselves. We find that the claimant has met the onus of rebutting the
presumption of state protection.

i) X . M.U. (Re) [1995] C.R.D.D. No. 146.

The claim, a homosexual Venezuelan, reported a number of brutal experiences and police
abuses (including raids, detention and rape). Reports confirmed the persecution of
LGBT persons in Venezuela and the discriminatory use of the Ley Sobre Vagos y
Maleantes to detain homosexuals.  The Board criticized the claimant’s unwillingness to 
seek protection (stating that the hostility of some police members to the gay community
did not illustrated that the entire law enforcement division would be opposed to offering
assistance)  but  realized  that  a  homosexual  “might  still  not  be  assured  of  adequate 
protection, in a country where ordinary citizens may be generally assured of protection” 
(36­37). There was, moreover, no realistic flight alternative for the claimant.

                                 I I I: Government Reports
(a) United States
(i) Bureau  of  Democracy,  Hum.  Rts.,  and  Lab.,  U.S.  Dep’t  of  State,  Venezuela:
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices—2008 (25 F ebruary 2009), online: < rpt/2008/wha/119177.htm>.

“There were no reliable statistics on societal violence or discrimination based on sexual

According to the NGO Citizen Action Against AIDS, persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS
frequently were discriminated against at the workplace and often were refused access to
government health services.”

(b) C anada

(i) Immigration and Refugee Board of C anada, Venezuela: Situation and treatment
of homosexuals; recourse available to those who have been harassed based on their
sexual orientation (2004- F ebruary 2006) (17 M arch 2006) V E N101086. F E online:
<http://www2.irb- &gotorec=450019>.

LGBT Venezuelans face discrimination and occupy a precarious position due to “social 
rejection”,  according  to  LGBT  NGO  Union  Affirmativa  de  Venezuela  (UNAF).    This 
situation makes them reluctant to report rights abuses and, despite frequent assaults, there
are no statistics. Homosexuals often, an activist cited in Green Left Weekly asserts, do
not report discrimination due to distrust, bureaucratic complications and fear of reprisal.
Discrimination is less common in large cities like Caracas but individuals are at risk in
smaller towns, cities and rural areas. A UNAF representative avers, “homosexual
couples could move about the streets as they wished and that, in his opinion, a
homosexual knowing his or her rights is like having [translation] "an antidote" to

A representative from the Movimiento Gay Revolucionario de Venezuela attributes
discrimination to cultural factors and exonerated the State of culpability. He cited official
representation of the government at LGBT events; two other activists observed growing
numbers attending events and increased private and public support for events (including
police protection). Some LGBT persons support Chavez but claim gays need increased
participation in government and homosexual legal issues need open discussion.

Many gay Venezuelans are rejected by their families and “end up on the street or living in 
very precarious conditions.”

Although there are no legal prohibitions on homosexuality or same-sex acts, a gay rights
activist stated LGBT Venezuelans are still assaulted, mistreated and sometimes murdered
and no public policies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Despite Labor
laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, homosexuals are still under
threat of losing jobs, UNAF states. This compels many to hide their sexual identity.
Employers disguise the dismissals as “staff cutbacks.”   Green Left Weekly states that the
AG Venezuela established a division to deal with LGBT needs but the IRB could not find
additional information on recourse available to homosexuals encountering harassment.

The IRB noted that Venezuela Lambda Alliance was a legally based gay NGO providing
community services with operations in Caracas and rural areas. The Movimiento Gay
Revolucionario de Venezuela is a leftist LGBT organization. The UNAF has never
received any threats and distributes educational materials. There are several venues
catering to gays in Caracas.

(ii)  Immigration  and  Refugee  Board  of  Canada,  “Venezuela;  Situation  and 
treatment of homosexuals; recourse available to those who have been victimized
because of their sexual orientation (2002-2004),”  (2  March  2004)  VEN42331.E 
online:                                                          <http://www2.irb- &gotorec=446504>.

The  Research  Directorate  cited  a  gay  travel  website  describing  the  “thriving”  gay 
population of Caracas with several venues catering to LGBT persons. Organizations
such as Lambda Alliance of Venezuela, based in Caracas operate several LGBT-oriented
services including a phone hotline; it following up on complaints to authorities.
The 2003 gay pride parade attracted 2,000 attendees and enjoyed police protection and
support from the Office of the Mayor of Caracas.  “According to the Executive Director
of the Lambda Alliance of Venezuela, the country's Protestant and Roman Catholic
churches are always strongly critical of the gay pride march, and participants are
sometimes insulted or threatened by public officials present at the [yearly] event.”

The coordinator of the UNAF has indicated positive developments concerning the human
rights of LGBT persons: organizations like the Venezuelan Program of Action-Education
in Human Rights, the Justice and Peace Support Network and the Ombudsman have
become open to these issues and members of the judiciary (prompted by UNAF) have
taken interest in this group. Governmental support, however, remains discreet and

While labor laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity, these laws are not
respected in practice, UNAF and the Lambda Alliance aver. These organizations also
complain that abuses go unreported “because [victim employees] are afraid it could lead 
to difficulties in finding another job.”

UNAF also reported that cases of police entering hotels frequented by homosexuals,
engaging in illegal searches and detentions, harassment, extortion and beatings. The
group  noted  a  “sustained  increase”  in  Human  Rights  violations  against  homosexuals  in 
Caracas over the years: in 1998, 85 complaints; in 1999, 92; in 2000, 121; in 2001, 152;
in 2002, 200; in 2003, 312. In 2003, 46 cases related to use of verbal aggression by state
security, 29 to verbal aggression by private security, 31 to illegal detention by state
security, 38 to illegal detention by private security, 24 to coerced sexual activity, 51 to
harassment, 2 to assassination, 16 to assault causing bodily harm, 17 to refusal of hospital
treatment, 17 to expulsion from homes by family and 29 to miscellaneous violations.

Of these complaints, only 5% were eventually lodged with authorities; those who did not
report stated they were afraid of reprisal (45%), 22% were afraid of publicizing their
sexuality, 20% were not familiar with the complaints process and 13% feared their
parents would discover their orientation. Of the agencies to which a complaint may be
lodged, the ombudsmen showed greater receptivity than the Attorney General. The
UNAF also indicated a reluctance to report mistreatment by state actors due to a fear of
repercussions “and that the bodies charged with responding to victims' allegations are in
any case incapable of providing them with protection.”    The  UNAF  Coordinator  stated 
that he himself had been told homosexuals have no rights when he attempted to file a
complaint. Lambda Alliance concurred that the police treat homosexuals poorly when
they attempt to file a complaint.

Homosexuals living outside Caracas are also at risk. Those in Valencia, for example are,
according to a 2002 Amnesty International report, in constant fear of harassment, ill
treatment and arbitrary detention by police and cannot move freely.

                           I V : Non-Government O rganizations
(a) Acción Ciudadana Contra el SI D A
(i) E dgar C ar rasco, V ictor C astillo, G abrielle G uerón, Informe sobre Homofobia,
Violencia e Impunidad contra la Conunidad Lesbiana, Gay, Transexual y Bisexual en
the República Bolivariana de Venezuela (2008).
Spanish language report being translated by Carlos.

(ii) A cción C iudadana Contra el SI D A , Informe F inal del Estudio Diagnostico
Situacional de las Personas Viviendo con VI H/SI D A en Venezuela (February 2007).
Spanish language report being translated by Carlos.
(iii) A cción C iudadana Contra el SI D A , Informe Final del Proyecto “Discrimination 
y E xclusión Social por VI H/SI D A (A pril 2004).
Spanish language report being translated by Carlos.
(vi) E dgar C ar rasco and M arcia O choa, Informe Sobre Impunidad en Violacion de
los Decrechos H umanos Comunidad G L B T (31 M ay 2003).
Spanish language report being translated by Carlos.

(ii) E dgar C ar rasco M ilena L iani, W alver V illegas, Report on Human Rights and
H I V/A I DS: Venezuela online: <>.
The report begins highlighting major advances with respect to human rights in
Venezuela’s Constitution of 1999: 1) a principle of progressiveness of human rights “as 
well as the aspects related to non-renouncability, indivisibility and interdependence”(6); 
2) treaties and international agreements as sources for human rights that may be favored
over internal regulations (6); 3) the right to access data about oneself (7); 4) Access to
justice  and  the  establishment  of  “collective  and  extended  rights  [that]  increase  human 
rights  protection  for  people  sharing the  same  situation,  but  unable  to  attend  court”  (7); 
and (5) State responsibility “to investigate and punish human rights violations and to
indemnify victims when necessary” (7). 
These  constitutional  protections,  however,  are  compromised  by  “a  different  reality  that 
comprises  serious  problems  such  as:  impunity, corruption  of  judicial  entities,  excessive 
abuse  of  power,  poverty,  lack  of  personal  security, etc.”  (8).    Civil  and  political  rights, 
moreover, have “deteriorated ever since 1999” and many reports from the Human Rights 
Commission  reflect  “the  ongoing  increase  of  cases  that transgress  the  right  to  life,  to 
personal  integrity,  to  citizen  safety,  likewise,  cases  that involve  people  disappearance, 
and  freedom  of  expression  restraint”  (9).    Economic,  social  and  cultural  rights  have 
received uneven protection (9). 
Persons living with HIV/AIDS come within the scope of the Constitution’s protection of 
human  rights  by  virtue  of  a  principle  of  equality  and  non­discrimination  designed  to 
achieve broad human dignity (11).   
Under  Article  21  of  the  Venezuelan  Constitution  (the  right  to  equality  and  non­
discrimination),  the  State  is  obliged  to  adopt  “positive  measures  favoring  groups  or 
peoples  that  might  be  discriminated,  neglected  or  prejudiced”  and  entitles  people  with 
special  needs,  including  those  living  with  HIV/AIDS,  to  “use  their  capacities  fully  and 
autonomously and to integrate themselves into family and community” (11).  
Under  Article  46  (the  right  to  physical,  psychological  and  moral  integrity),  preserves 
Venezuelans from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and non­consensual scientific 
and  medical  testing  (12).    The  authors  note  that  “interpretation  problems  have  arisen 
when dealing with medical tests  consent since most employers request  these tests to be 
run before getting a job or for keeping one, without implying that the subject has
consented them” (12).

Articles  43  and  83  establish  health  as  a  “basic  social  right”  which  the  State  must 
guarantee and thus confirms national jurisprudence on the treatment of people living with
HIV/AIDS (12). The health system must be, according to a constitutional system, free,
universal, integral, equal, socially integrated and cooperative (13).

Article 86 entitles everyone, including the financially disadvantages, to social security

Articles 102 and 103 guarantee principles of equality and non-discrimination in relations
to education and, by implication, precludes lack of access to HIV-infected Venezuelans
(13). The right to work, under Article 86, is constitutionally protected and the following
principles  are  preserved:  “intangibility and progressiveness of rights and benefits; non-
renounceability to them; application of the best regulations favoring workers, invalidity
of any employer’s act which is opposite to constitutional dispositions; non-discrimination
and protection from economical  and  social  abuse,  especially  of  teenagers”  (14).    The 
authors, with this in mind, state that  a  “request for an HIV test as a requirement for
getting a job would be considered an action out of the constitutional framework since it
violates the principle and right to equality and non-discrimination thus any action
involved would be considered ineffective” (14).

The report also made note of regulations by the Ministry of Health and Social
Development requiring pregnant women to take HIV tests, providing ARV treatment to
positive pregnant women before, during and after birth, consolidating HIV/AIDS
programs into one program, the rendering of testing services regardless of any distinction,
consensual HIV testing, the notification of HIV/AIDS cases by  health  institutions  “in 
order to apply the corresponding medical treatment” (14-16).

The  report  also  noted  that,  on  November  29  2002,  “the  Juridical  Consulting  of  the 
Ministry of Labor issued Decision No. 71 that, for the first time in Venezuela, officially 
states recommendations for dealing with HIV/AIDS in the workplace” (17). 
The  report  summarized  the  HIV/AIDS  National  Program  of  Venezuela  and  its  aims  to 
prevent  HIV  transmission  through  informational  programs,  to  increase  the  scope  of 
integral  assistant  (including  free  medical  treatment),  improved  epidemiological 
information,  preventing  mother  to  child  transmission  and  designing  “effective 
instruments for reporting human rights violation of the people living with AIDS  and of 
other vulnerable populations” (20). 
The  budget  for  this  Program  in  2002  was  50  thousand  million  bolivars  of  which  20 
thousand  million  ($26,  160,  889.47)  were  intended  for  the  purchase  of  ARVs  (21).  
Increased  spending  on  ARVs  reflects  an  increased  demand  over  the  years  2000,  2001, 
2002  (21).    SUMED  SEFAR,  through  AIDS  Regional  Coordination  officers, 
implemented  processes  for  the  distribution  of  medicines  (22).    In  response  to  space 
limitations  for  patients  and  drug  distribution  and  insufficient  staff  at  an  HIV/AIDS 
treatment hospital in Caracas, the IVSS Centro de Immunología Clínica opened October 
2000 (26).   This clinic experienced some “administrative chaos” in 2002 with the effect 
of “causing certain instability” (26). 
In June 2002, a shortage in ARVs presented itself in Caracas which “serious affect[ed]” 
the  quality  of  life  by  creating  an  opportunity  for  resistance  to  drugs  and  absence  from 
work (28).  The delay was dues to a problem with purchase orders (28).  This situation, 
and  another  involving  viral  load  testing,  “show  that  IVSS  is  not  complying  with  its 
obligations”  stated  in  a  regulation  obliging  the  provision  of  HIV  permanent  HIV 
treatment  as  well  as  the  administration  of  relevant  testing  for  infected  individuals  (29).  
Budgetary,  staffing  and  space  limitations  have  also  impeded  the  provisions  of  “integral 
health service[s]” (30). 

The report also stated that the Citizen Branch of The Office of the Public Defender issued
a memo, on October 27, 2000, urging the Venezuelan state to curb discrimination and
rights violations of HIV+ citizens (32-34). This Office has assisted in achieving a
judicial decision prohibiting educational institutions from requiring HIV tests and
“cooperating in providing solutions for homeless [persons] living with HIV in Caracas” 

However,  despite  these  “great efforts carried out in relation to human rights, desired
advances related to HIV/AIDS have not been achieved yet, specially in relation to case
solution, since most of the cases have not received proper treatment” (34). Some officers
are disinterested in finding solutions for human rights violations of infected persons and
flawed investigations occur (34).  Many suits accepted the offender’s plea for innocence 
leading the Public Defender to state that no rights violation had occurred.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports has developed programs related to
HIV/AIDS including amendments to educational curricula (35).

More than 50% of a Human Rights Program carried out by ACCSI (a Venezuelan
HIV/AIDS NGO) involved work disputes ranging from firing, testing required to obtain
or keep positions, unjustified incapability, profit share payment, accidents at work and
access to social security (40). In 2000, a Ministry of Law Juridical Counseling issued
Decision No. 71 which deemed discrimination based on HIV/AIDS a prohibited
discriminatory activity and called requests for HIV testing “for getting or keeping a job” 
discriminatory and unconstitutional (41-42).

According to the report, there are three shelters in the Metropolitan area of Caracas which
“face serious difficulties due to the lack of granting of financial resources and the absence 
of  good  living  conditions  for  the  people  living  with  HIV  therein  inhabiting”  (45).  
Moreover,  “it  has  been  difficult  for  HIV+  cases  to  get  admitted  in  these  centers”  (45).  
When ACCSI has had to negotiate for the admission of infected individuals, admission
“has been granted upon conditions and agreements that place responsibilities on the NGO 
for the admitted people behavior and actions” (45).  There are “no clear policies at [the] 
municipal  level”  regarding  how  “indigent  HIV  cases  are  managed”  (45).    Centres 
managed  by  nuns,  moreover,  have  a  negative  HIV  test  requirement  which  authorities 
have not attempted to alter (45). 
The  report  also  noted  “a  wide  range  of  foundations  and  associations  intended  to  work 
towards  AIDS”  existing  in  Caracas  and  other  regions  (48).    These  NGOs  provide 
“emotional  support,  medical  and  laboratory assistance,  juridical  and  human  rights 
counseling, general advice, information centers, prevention programs, support group and 
medicine supply” (48).  They have also filled in gaps in state support for infected persons 
and NGOs have received approval from the Ministry of Health and Social Development 
to carry out several projects (48)

A  document  prepared  by  the  Fundación  Mexicana  para  la  Salud  and  SIDALAC  found 
that found that Venezuela had the “lowest percentage within national response shares for 
preventing and assisting HIV/AIDS (49). 
According to the authors, employment is one of the most frequent spheres in which HIV+ 
persons  encounter  rights  abuses  (59).    Private  and  public  corporations  conduct  non­
consensual  testing  on  both  prospective  and  current  employees  with  the  result  of  non­
hiring or dismissal (59). 
The  report  noted  several  human  rights  violations  between  the  years  2000  and  2002.    A 
worker, for example, at the Pandería Crocante was dismissed after the submission of an 
HIV test (51).  An employee, after Instituto Venezolano de los Seguros Sociales (IVSS) 
disclosed his HIV status to his employer Unibanca, was dismissed (51).   At FOSPUCA, 
a chief threatened to fire and humiliated an HIV+ employee (51).  An HIV+ teacher was 
compelled  to  quit  due  to  treatment  by  school’s  administration  and  his  colleagues  (51).  
The Hotel  Meliá Caracas, moreover requires HIV tests  to  obtain and retain positions; a 
party have been dismissed based on his  stated (51).   An HIV+ employee at Pepsi­Cola 
has  also  been  dismissed  (51).    HIV+  employees  have  also  been  dismissed,  refused 
positions,  experienced  non­consensual  testing,  experienced  suspensions  to  their  salary, 
beatings,  non­coverage  by  their  employer’s  insurance  policy  at  the  Nuevo  País 
Newspaper, Ultra Optica, The Metropolitan Ministry of Education, the TCG Consulting 
Group, the Banco Federal, Condominio Santiago de Leónin Caracas, Nino Carbonne, the 
Unión  de  Conductores  La  Responsable  and  PDVSA  (52­56).    An  officer  with  the 
Liberator Major was required was obliged to take an HIV test by her supervisor because 
coworkers claimed she was positive (53­54).  A soccer player with the Deportivo Italacao 
was tested, without consent, for HIV and dismissed (54).  At the Ministry of Defence, test 
results of a sergeant were circulated amongst his troop (55). 
An educational  institute, the FAN School of Communications and Electronics,  Instituto 
Universitario  Militar,  had  HIV  testing  as  a  requirement  to  pre­registration  (54).    The 
Universidad  Pedagógica  Experimental  Liberator  (UPEL),  Liceo  Aplicación  (Caracas), 
Instituto de la Policía Metrolpolitana and the Institutor Cecilio Acosta (Los Teques) also 
imposed HIV/AIDS testing as an admission requirement (60). 
There  were  also  reports  of  abuses  within  the  health  care  system.    A  homeless  person 
living with AIDS was denied entry to the Hospital Algodonal and the emergency services 
of  Hospital  Vargas  (53).    At  the  MHSD  Regional  Hospital  in  Valle  La  Pascua,  Edo. 
Guárico,  doctors  were  accused  of  discriminatory  and  poor  medical  practices;  there, 
patient  privacy  was  compromised  through  the  spread  of  flyers  in  the  streets  (54).    The 
Instituto  de  los  Seguros  Social  (IVSS)  was  responsible  for  irregularities  in  ARV 
treatment  supplies  (54).    At  the  Hospital  Clinico  Univeritario  de  Caracas,  hand  surgery 
was  delayed  to  an  HIV+  patient  who  required  immediate  assistance  (55).    Staff  at  the 
Hospital Gurí Ormesa/Edelca spread an HIV+ person’s diagnosis around the community, 
destroying his business (56). 
The Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA (ACCSI) was successful in a court case against 
IVSS requesting regular ARV treatment and use of new technologies for HIV treatment 
(56­57).    In  1998,  IVSS  issued  “an  administrative  order  that  acknowledged  the  right  to 
access  to treatment  for  HIV+  persons”  (57).    It  was  also  successful  in  a  court  case,  in 
December  2002,  involving  an  HIV+  soccer  player  who  had  been  dismissed  on  the 
grounds of his HIV status (58).

The report also stated that police frequently violate the rights to freedom and personal
security of HIV+ persons (58). Especially affected were homosexuals and transsexuals
who are “insulted  and  .  .  .  physically  and  verbally  attacked  by  police  agents  and  mall 
security  guards”  (58).    Police,  the  report  states  elsewhere,  “have  been    involved  in 
criminal  actions  and  inhuman  and  degrading  treatment  towards”  homosexuals  and 
bisexuals (67). Hospitals and health centers were also agents of discrimination who
provided non-continuous ARV treatment, rejected HIV patients and subjected patients to
discrimination (59).

According to the report, the Office of the Public Defender has not, due to its complex
bureaucracy, been efficient in the enforcement of its objective to protect the rights of
HIV+ people (73).

(b) World Policy

(i) A ndrew Reding, Sexual Orientation and H uman Rights in the Americas
(December                  2003)                online:                < G B T-
A mericas.pdf>.

According  to  Reding,  “Brazil,  Argentina,  Mexico,  and  Venezuela  all  show  strong 
regional contrasts in treatment of sexual minorities. LGBT individuals remain very much
at  risk  in  smaller  towns  and  cities  and  rural  areas”  (2).    In  Latin  America,  macho  and 
sexually  dominant  men  are  less  likely  to  be  considered  homosexual  and “suffer  little  if 
any social  stigma”  (3).    By  contrast,  effeminate  men  “are  subject  to  constant  taunting, 
verbal and physical abuse and discrimination” (3).

Reding  also  observed  a  “close  correlation”  in  Latin  America  between’  patterns  of 
discrimination against sexual minorities and patterns of neglect  of HIV/AIDS” (3).  He 
assert that:

      In some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is not uncommon, and
      sometimes not illegal, for businesses to screen prospective employees for HIV. In
      those countries where free access to advanced antiretroviral therapy is contingent
      on employment-based national health insurance coverage, being denied such
      employment can be tantamount to a death sentence for anyone who cannot
      otherwise afford treatment. (3)

Although the coordinator of LGBT unit  of  Venezuela’s  Amnesty  International  chapter 
described the social attitude of “general tolerance” with “incomprehension and ignorance 
prevail[ing]” and the violence is  not  widespread, gays fear losing their jobs and abuses 
are not vigorous investigated (42). Employers often fire gay employees, citing other
reasons (42). Transsexuals and transvestites have been illegally detained by police and
subject to illegal searches (42-43). Transvestites have been subject to extreme violence,
sometimes resulting in murder (43-44).

(c) H uman Rights Watch

(i) H uman Rights W atch, Together, Apart: Organization around Sexual Orientation
and Gender Identity Worldwide (New Yor k : H uman Rights W atch, 2009).

The  report  noted  that  Venezuela  has  “national  protections  against sexual-orientation-
based discrimination—though none for gender identity” (34).  However, the report notes 
that  “progress  has  had  an  uneven  reach.  Brazil,  a  transgender  activist  pointed  out,  “has 
the largest Pride parade in the world, but also some of the highest levels of hate crimes
against  LGBT people.”  Laws used to  arrest  transgender people in  public places—along
with sex workers, gay men, and lesbians—are still on the books across [South America]”

The report also found that transgender people encountered, in the health care system
“discrimination, abuse, lack of access to services, and comprehensive refusal to
acknowledge their identities” (35). One Venezuelan activist stated, “Nine out of ten trans 
people do not consult doctors even in case of serious illness, because of the mistreatment
they know they will face in health services” (35).

Discussion of sexuality was lamentably minimal in Venezuelan schools and, when it is
addressed, heterosexual models are put forth (36). Religion, and a politicized version of
the family it put forth, was cited as a persuasive force in Latin America (36).

Finally, Venezuelan activists lamented the fact that the gay rights movement in
Venezuela lagged behind movements in neighboring Latin American countries; these
neighbours were not providing sufficient assistance to less fortunate countries (37).

(ii) H uman Rights W atch, A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost
Opportunities for Advancing H uman Rights in Venezuela (New Yor k : H uman Rights
W atch, 2008).

“This book examines the current state of Venezuelan democracy from a human rights
perspective. It does not address all the pressing human rights issues [facing the country
today, many of which pre-date the Chávez presidency. Rather, it focuses on the impact
that the Chávez government’s policies have had on institutions that play key roles in 
ensuring that human rights are respected: the courts, the media, organized labor, and civil
society” (2).

No direct discussion of HIV/AIDS and sexual orientation human rights issues.

(d) International Gay and Lesbian H uman Rights Commission

(i) International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, “Venezuela: Protest 
the  Murder  of  a  Transwoman  in  Caracas,”  (10  June  2009)  online: 

In May 2009, a transwoman was shot by an unknown individual in Caracas and died of
injuries.    According  to  the  article,  “[t]his is the fourth murder to affect the Caracas
transgender community in the last six months.”

(ii) International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, “Venezuela: Trans 
A ctivist H ad to L eave the Country Due to Police H arassment and Is Asking for
Protection,”      (22     May      2006)      online:     <

An activist for transsexual rights witnessed the murder of her friend in Valencia and
underwent severe harassment by police (including a shooting which temporarily
paralyzed her). She had been followed to Barquisimeto and Caracas.

(iii) International  Gay  and  Lesbian  Human  Rights  Commission,  “Venezuela: 
Transgender  Activist  In  Hiding  After  Threat  From  Police,”  (2  December  2002) 
online:                                                   <
A transgender activist leading called for justice after the murders of transsexuals,
allegedly by police in Carabobo, is facing threat of arrest and violent police retaliation.

(iv)  International  Gay  and  Lesbian  Human  Rights  Commission,  “Venezuela: New
Violence  Against  Transgender  People,”  (22  January  2002)  online: 

On January 11, 2002, a transgender woman was shot dead in Valencia and police
involvement is considered highly possible. Police were accused on involvement in the
murder of a transgender woman in July 2000. A uniformed officer shot at another trans
woman on January 13. On January 16, two transgender activists were placed in
incommunicado detention without information on the charges laid against them.

(v)  International  Gay  and  Lesbian  Human  Rights  Commission,  “Venezuela: 
Harassment  of  Transvestites,”  (4  April  2001)  online:  <

Commander of Police in Carabobo has stated that “homosexuals and prostitutes are to be
ruled by a police code. The cannot move freely in the streets.” [emphasis mine].  Trans 
activists  claim  that  the  Commander  “has also begun taking direct revenge on activists
who have publicized police abuse to the international community.”

(e) International L abor O rganization

(i) International L abour O rganization/Joint United Nations Programme on
H I V/A I DS, People at Work: Addressing Stigma and Discrimination (2006).

“Venezuela: A professional football player was fired because he tested HIV­positive. The 
test  was  done  by  his  employer  without  his  consent  and  the  positive  test  results  were 
communicated to other players and others involved in the sport. On 6 February 2003, the 
tribunal  ordered  his  reinstatement  with  full  employment  entitlements  and  benefits. 
Establishing  an  important  precedent,  the  tribunal  ruled  void  the  “agreement”  he  had 
signed, under employer pressure, waiving his rights . . .” (7). 

(f) Pan American H ealth Organization

(i)  Pan  America  Health  Organization,  “Toward  Universal  Access  to  Prevention, 
Care, and Treatment,” (2006).

According to this report, over 90% of Venezuela’s health districts were providing ARV 
treatment (21). The report also stated  that  “Venezuela’s  surveillance  of  HIV  care  and 
treatment was improved with 3 by 5 funding as well. In 2005, the country’s National 
AIDS Program implemented a new information system to monitor care and improve
patient follow-up. Using data from the system, a centralized team will be able to track
cases, monitor therapies, and assist physicians with treatment” (35).
(ii) Pan-America  Health  Organization,  “Understanding  and  responding  to 
H I V/A I DS-related stigma and discrimination in the health sector,”  (Pan A merican
H ealth O rganization, 2003).

“A 1996 study of322 health workers revealed higher consistent negative attitudes among
dentists (36% rejection; 45% discrimination) and nurses (26% rejection; 46%
discrimination) than among doctors (27% rejection; 42% discrimination) and students
(23% rejection; 42% discrimination). This was “[p]robably  due  to  the  higher  risk  of 
contagion present in the clinical activities of these professionals”. (Prieto Belisario 1996)
Segurado et al 2003)

In 2002, the government launched a national campaign intended to promote diversity and
to reduce discrimination against homosexual men” (34).

(g) Latin American and Caribbean Council of AI DS Service Organizations

(i) L atin A merican and C aribbean Council of A I DS Service O rganizations, “Report 
on access to comprehensive care, anti-retroviral treatment and human rights of
people  living  with  HIV/AIDS  in  Latin  American  and  the  Caribbean,”  (October 

Despite recognition by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of the right of IVSS (Institute of
Social Security) members to regular and continuous delivery of ARVs in 1997 and, in
1999, access to ARVs as a basic human right (5), the country has “recently faced serious
interruptions in ARV treatment supply [and] NGO organizations and persons living with
HIV have filed claims and judicial resources aimed at improving and regulating supply
and services” (11).

Inefficient “bureaucracy and public programs” have caused shortages in medication, lack 
of inventory control, expiry of medications, lack of planning and organization for the
delivery of medicine, lack of capable personnel, lack of counseling for HIV+ persons,
lack of pharmacy monitoring and other deficiencies and irregularities (26-27).

According to the report, a “[l]ack of programmed purchase by the sectors involved has
made interruption in ARV access treatment a constant problem to be faced by people
living with HIV/AIDS. Sometimes, “cocktails” are partially delivered and in some cases, 
people living with HIV/AIDS must request donations from NGOs or get financial aid for
acquiring or completing indicated therapies. Likewise, ARV treatment access budget
depends on the results of public bond sales outside the country (26-27)

(h) U N A I DS

(i) U N A I DS, H I V – Related Stigma, Discrimination and H uman Rights Violations:
Case Studies of Successful Programmes (Geneva: U N A I DS, 2005).
“[I] in July 1999, the Supreme Court ordered the Ministry of Health to provide, free of
charge, antiretroviral medications, treatments for opportunistic infections and diagnostic
testing to all Venezuelan citizens and foreigners resident in Venezuela who are living
with  HIV.  This  was  the  first  time  the  Court  had  ruled  in  the  collective  interest.  The 
Supreme Court said that the right to health and the right to life were closely linked in this
case to  the  right  to  access  the  benefits  from  science  and  technology.  It  cited  recent 
developments in antiretroviral therapy as examples of the achievements of science and
technology; and it said that these developments allow people living with HIV to prolong
their lives and to improve their quality of life. To guarantee the implementation of court
rulings, ACCSI established committees of people living with HIV who volunteered to
observe and facilitate the process between Ministries, people living with HIV, and the
pharmaceutical industry, and to help ensure adequate supplies. Despite challenges
relating to insufficient budgets and supply failures, the programme is assisting
approximately 15 000 people living with HIV” (58-59).

                                  V : A cademic Scholarship

1. HIV and refugee claims (Non-Venezuelan)

(a) “Federal Court orders judicial review of decision on Mexican refugee application”,
(2009) 14:1 H I V/A I DS Policy & Law Review.
This article reports on Diaz v. Canada , a Federal Court order for judicial review of a
negative refugee claim. This claimant was a homosexual HIV+ Mexican. The court held
the Board did not adequately address question of whether stigma directed at HIV+
Mexicans “affected the delivery of treatment and medication by medical staff in Mexico” 
and whether  “systemic  barriers”  linked  to  HIV  testing  and  employment  “amounted  to 
persecution.”    The  Board  also  overlooked  links  between  the  claimant’s  socio-economic
status and HIV status and the claimant’s family would not care for him even though, in 
Mexico, families are usually the primary caregivers for infected persons.
(b) “HIV-positive man from DRC deemed a ‘person in need of protection,’” (2008) 
13:2 H I V/A I DS Policy & Law Review.
The IRB accepted that the manner in which the Congolese government treated the HIV
epidemic posed a risk to the life of an HIV+ refugee claimant. The Board accepted that a
government which is unwilling to pay for ARV treatment despite resources and military
expenditures and whose health care system stigmatizes infected individuals and which
tolerates  rape  and  military  and  police  leading  to  HIV  transmission  “willfully  neglects 
people with HIV and is willfully indifferent to the spread of HIV infection.”
(c)  “Federal Court of A ppeal examines for first time refugee protection on the basis
of inadequate health care,” (2007) 12:1  H I V/A I DS Policy & Law Review .
The decision in Covarrubias v Canada (2006)  “provides  an  opening  for  a  failed  HIV-
positive claimant to legally remains in Canada where the country to which she is to be
deported has in bad faith failed to provide adequate health or medical care to people
living with HIV/AIDS.”
(d)    “Federal Court overturns negative Pre-Removal Risk Assessment of H I V-
positive failed refugee claimant,” (2005) 10:2  H I V/A I DS Policy & Law Review .
The Federal Court founds that a PRRA Officers erred in disregarding new evidence from
a friend of the claimant describing his own “humiliation and suffers as he attempted for 
five years to obtain adequate HIV treatment in Mexico.”

(e) “Court orders Immigration and Refugee Board to take into account evidence of
H I V-related discrimination,” (2004) 9:3  H I V/A I DS Policy & Law Review .
This  article  recounts  a  Federal  Court’s  grant  of  an  application  for  judicial  review  of  a 
negative decision by the IRB with respect to an  HIV+  Nigerian  woman’s  claim.    The 
Court  held  that  the  IRB  “ignored  salient  documentary  evidence”  concerning 
discrimination that the claimant would face from family and community, in employment
“and  other  systemic  discrimination.”    It  also  “found  that  the  IRB  contradicted  itself  by 
citing  evidence  of  widespread discrimination  against HIV­positive  Nigerians,  but  then 
ruling out the possibility of systemic discrimination.” 

(f) “Federal  Court orders re­determination of HIV­positive Zimbabwean’s refugee 
claim,” (2006) 11:2/3 HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review. 

The Federal Court determined that the s. 97(1)(b) “analysis involved two steps. First, the 
IRB should decide whether there is a risk to life. Second, if there is such a risk, the IRB
must determine if the health care exclusion is applicable. The Court found that the IRB
made an error when it ‘expressly declined to qualitatively assess the treatment programs
that would be available’ to the applicant, instead finding that ‘some level of health care 
would not be denied’ him. In doing so, the IRB ‘wrongly conflated the two parts of the 
test.’” Moreover, “The Court rejected the distinction between "unable" and "unwilling." 
The  Court  found  that  the health  care  exclusion  would  exclude  from refugee protection 
persons who could not access health care because they do not have the resources to pay 
for it.” 
2.  LGBT in Venezuela 
Elisabeth Jay Friedman, “Gender, Sexuality and the Latin American Left: Testing 
the Transformation,” (2009) 30:2  Third World Quarterly 415.
According to  this study  of Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela,  “the transformation of
gender and sexual power relations is impeded by entrenched opposition, institutional
roadblocks  and  inconsistent  commitment  on  the  part  of  leftwing  executives”  (415).
Friedman noted that in “Venezuela’s  first  constitutional  reform  in  1999,  the  Catholic 
Church blocked the addition of a clause stipulating non-discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation (along with abortion). Eight years later the clause was included in the
unsuccessful 2007 constitutional  reform”  (428).    Friedman  noted  that  “today’s  leftwing
governments show a mixed commitment to women’s and LGBT rights” (430).

Friedman concluded on Venezuela:

      The  Bolivian  and  Venezuelan  experiences  confirm  the  finding  that constitutional
      reform processes can offer an opportunity for activists to promote  women’s  and
      LGBT rights. However, such mobilisation does not always lead to state action,
      particularly when church-led opposition is strong; in any case, the current reforms
      have either failed or face significant opposition. (430)
Tod W. Burke et al., “A Cross­National Comparison of Gay and Lesbian Domestic 
Violence,” (2002) 18:3 Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 231. 
According  to  the  study,  the  negative  light  that  is  cast  on  homosexuality  has  led 
Venezuelan police to “ignore gay and lesbian victims” (237).  Scholars, the media and the 
legal  system  have  also  “ignored  the  plight  of  gays  and  lesbian”  (237).    The  research 
revealed  that  “Venezuelans  overwhelmingly  expressed  a  distrust  of  law  enforcement” 
(249).  A number of Venezuelan respondents  thought  that their local  police department 
was  biased against homosexuality  (251).  61.11% of the Venezuelan participants  in  the 
study stated a distrust of the courts (251). 
The  authors  thus  concluded  “agencies  of  justice  are  accorded  much  less  legitimacy  in 
Venezuela  than  in  the  United  States”  (251).    In  Venezuela,  “law  enforcement  has  little 
legitimacy” for gays and lesbians (253). 
                                      VI: Media Reports 
“Protesta  de  pacientes  VIH  positivo  culminó  en  trifulca,”  El  Universal  (16  July 
2009)  online:  <­de­
[Spanish Language report] 
A peaceful protest in  Carabobo state in  front of the headquarters of the health ministry 
resulted in a violent clash between demonstrator and security personnel.  The protestors 
were  complaining  about  inadequacies  of  treatment  (late  delivery  of  ARVs  and  lack  of 
Claudio Lomnitz and Rafael Sánchez, “United by Hate: The Uses of anti­Semitism 
in       Chávez’s      Venezuela,”       Boston          Review      (July     2009)       online: 
Although this article primarily addresses the flagrant anti­Semitism in current Venezuela, 
it makes some pertinent remarks on homophobia in the country:  
Chávez thus refers to his opponents as “escuálidos” (squalids), a Spanish term that
       connotes not only dirtiness and abjection, but also flimsiness, wimpiness, and
      scrawniness. Not surprisingly, figures conventionally associated with degradation
      are important in the imagery. Homophobia is a key element in that repertoire;
      although  unlike  Cuba  (Castro  is  Chávez’s  admired  “father”),  which  bans 
      homosexuality and persecutes homosexuals, Chavismo relies on homophobia as
      invective rather than state policy.

Will Grant, “Venezuela ‘silent’ on hate crimes,”  B B C News (2 June 2009) online:

In the course of a weekend four transsexual prostitutes are murdered in Caracas in
conditions that suggest robbery was not the motive. Over 20 transsexuals have been
murdered since 2009 began. Police are not interested in investigating murders of
transsexuals. According to Prof. Tamara Adrian, a law professor in  Venezuela, “"Hate
crimes become absorbed into the more generic violence in this country and often are not
identified as anti-gay hate crimes as such." Transsexuals are regularly humiliated and
insulted in the streets; groups film themselves abusing transsexuals and post the videos
on youtube.

According to Prof. Adrian,  “The  important  thing to understand about the LGBT
community in Venezuela is that they are given no legal protection whatsoever . . . There
are huge prejudices still in place among the legal actors themselves - inside the state
prosecutor's office, the police, the judiciary and the national assembly.”

“La  homofobia  lleva  unifome  policial”  E (22 M arch 2009)
< enezuela T ransg.032209.pdf>.

A Metropolitan Police officer harasses and intimidates a transsexual and a gay man.
According  to  a  recent  report,  “Homofobia,  violencia  e  impunidad  contra  la  comunidad 
lésbica,  gay,  bisexual  y  transgénero  (LGBT)  en  Venezuela,”  50%  of  the  study’s 
participants had negative experiences with state law enforcement officials 
Lyndon  Barnett,  “Venezuela  Lagging  On  Reform,”  Sydney Star Observer (18
February                                     2009)                                      online:

“Caracas-raised Cesar, 41, believes Hugo  Chávez’s  pro-gay statements and actions are
nothing  more  than  political  stunts  to  garner  support  from  Venezuela’s  gay  and  lesbian 

“A  year  after  his  election  victory,  Chávez  redrafted  the  Venezuelan  constitution, 
increasing the presidential term from five to six years. Three years later he expressed
regret on his weekly television program, Aló Presidente, that an anti-discrimination
clause on the basis of sexuality was omitted from the new constitution.”
“Culturally Venezuelan society has yet to embrace homosexuality completely. However,
Caracas does have a gay infrastructure with gay bars and a keen activist movement.

[The  interviewee  stated,]‘Nobody  ever  acknowledges  being  gay  in  Venezuela.  Nobody 
would admit to it.’”

“Exigen  prueba  para  ingresar  o  mantener  un  tabajo,”  E (1
December                      2008)                      online:                     < enezuela H I V120108.pdf>.

There are several cases in Venezuela (including in Caracas) of non-consensual HIV
testing being performed by employers as a condition of obtaining or maintaining

Bertrand Rosenthal, “Slow Progress Against HIV stigma in Latin America,”  A E G IS
(30 July 2008) online: < >.

“Most countries in Latin America -- where some 1.7 million are HIV-positive according
to the latest UNAIDS figures -- have anti-discrimination laws, but they rarely sanction
those who fail to respect them.

From Chile to Mexico, accounts of HIV discrimination abound.”

“In  Venezuela  and  El  Salvador,  NGOs  have  reported  cases  of  companies carrying out
AIDS tests without the individual's consent, leading to lay offs for those tested positive.”

Rex Wockner, “Venezuela  moves to protect gays,”  International News (22 O ctober
2007)                                                                     online:
< enezuela102207.pdf>.

A constitutional amendment to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation has passed
a Venezuelan legislative committee and moved to the full National Assembly.

Should the measure and other proposed changes pass the assembly, they would advance
to a national referendum in December.

Federico  Fuentes  &  Kiraz  Janicke,  “Struggling  for  Gay  and  Lesbian  Rights  in 
Venezuela,”      Green       Left     Weekly       (December        2005)     online:

Interference of Catholic Church in Constituent Assembly, LGBT activists allege, have
previously blocked LGBT rights resolutions. One activist attributed discrimination to the
cultural factors rather than the state.

Rex  Wockner,  “GLBTs  march  in  Venezuela”  International News (11 July 2005)
< enezuela %20Rex %20071105.p

More than 3,000 GLBTs marched in the largest­ever pride parade in Caracas, Venezuela, 
July 3 ­­ from Plaza Brión to Plaza de los Museos. They demanded legal recognition of 
same­sex relationships and an end to police abuse.

"We're  in  the  streets  to  obtain  equality  and  the  respect  of  society," Jesús  Medina, 
president  of  Lambda  Alliance,  told  the  newspaper  Últimas Noticias.  "This  is  a  cause 
similar to ones in the past to end racial discrimination and for women's rights to work and 

“The Mayor’s Office in Caracas opens an office to service the LGBT community,”         (20         June           2005)           online:
< aracasM ayor L G B Toffice.pdf>.

“Division  para  el  Desarollo  de  las  Personas  Gays  Lesbians,  Bisexuales,  Transexuales  y 
Transgeneros”,  operating  under  the  Mayor  office  in  Caracas,  works  to  support  NGOs 
addressing LGBT issues.

Humberto  Marquez,  “Venezuela:  NGOs  Successfully  Press  for  Replacement  of 
Dubious  AIDS  Drugs,” Inter Press Service (19 July 2004) online:

The Venezuelan government agreed to supply alternative ARVs after versions of the
drugs were removed from WHO prequalification list. Of the 4,970 Venezuelans who
received the de-listed drugs, several suffered from skin rashes, stomach acidity, gastritis
and swelling.

Terry  Kirby,  “Societies  Polarized  by  rising  profile  of  homosexuals,”  The
Independent (5 July 2004) online: <

“The book, Sex, Love and Homophobia , by Vanessa Baird and published by Amnesty
International, is an overview of the history of gays and lesbians and their current status
around the world.”

“The targeting and killing of transgender people, says the book, has become an
"epidemic" on the streets of some South American countries - Argentina, Brazil and
Venezuela - despite the progressive attitude towards gay rights of some local authorities
in the first two countries.”

Diana  Cariboni,  “Access  to  Anti-AIDS  Drugs  Varies  Widely  in  Latin  America,” 
A E G IS            (1              December              2003)               online:
In Venezuela, just over 10,000 people receive treatment with ARVs in the public health
system, less than 20 percent of the 70,000 people living with the disease, according to
NGOs. In 2001, the Supreme Court ordered that the cocktail therapy be provided to all
patients free of charge.” “ 

“About  200  HIV-Positive V enezuelans Protest at Social Security O ffices O ver
Access  to  HIV/AIDS  Medicines,”  The Body: The Complete H I V/A I DS Resource (8
A ugust 2003) online: <>.

200 individuals in Caracas protested and the Social Security Institution (IVSS) to use
donations to import and domestically produce ARVs. Due to a shortage, 3,500 HIV+
Venezuelans were forced to register with groups which donate medicines. One
organization leader stated having to turn away patients due to insufficient supplies. The
Venezuelan Supreme Court had obligated IVSS to cover costs in 2002.

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