Venezuelan LGBTI rights activist murdered; activists seek equal rights under law

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Giniveth Soto and her spouse, Migdelis Miranda, holding their son. It will be a terribly hard holiday season now for Migdelis, as Giniveth was taken from her and their son most brutally on Saturday in the wee hours. The crime is still unsolved, and worse, it points to a lingering deficiency in Venezuelan law, too:

Giniveth Soto, lesbian, psychologist and Venezuelan activist for the human rights of the sex-diverse populatio, was brutally murdered in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 13, while working as a taxi driver to support her family.

Giniveth, who was also the niece of National Assembly deputy Fernando Soto Rojas, had married Migdelis Miranda a year and a half ago in Argentina. Together, they conceived a son with the help of artificial insemination, and he was born three and a half months ago, also in Argentina. The decision to marry, as well as to conceive a son who was born in a country other than their own were difficult decisions, but part of a clear and radical struggle for recognition of the dignity of loving relationships between persons of the same sex and/or gender, as well as legality and full inclusion for families formed by gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, transsexuals, and intersex people (LGBTI) in Venezuela.

In Argentina, as of 2010, same-sex marriage is possible, for non-resident foreigners as well; also, Uruguay and Brazil, both members of Mercosur, have advanced significantly in the dignification of the citizenships and humanities of all persons, guaranteeing them equal rights, impacted by the leadership of Venezuela in a process of significant changes which has resulted in more than 15 years of full social inclusion.

The Bolivarian Revolution is based in the essential goal of defending and promoting the development of persons and respect for their dignity, guaranteeing the progressivity and pre-eminence of human rights, equality without discrimination, no subordination of any kind, social justice, and equality as basis for the construction of a just, egalitarian and peace-loving society. However, human rights for the LGBTI population have been rendered invisible by a system dominated by functionaries in service of a lay state, who use the Bible instead of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela to make decisions and justify discrimination, for which reason they must be removed from office.

With great bravery and courage, Giniveth militated in AC Venezuela Igualitaria, which represented the struggle in which she, along with her beloved spouse, joined, demanding that Venezuela recognize the right to register their Argentine marriage, and that the birth of their son be registered recognizing the maternity of both women, as expressed by Argentine authorities upon the birth of the boy in their land, as well as legislation in favor of the right for any two people who love one another to marry freely and with consent and live together without regard for their sexual orientation or gender identity. And she believed, with revolutionary consciousness, that these changes would only be possible under a Bolivarian socialist doctrine which promotes decolonization and depatriarchalization as key motors of a cultural change which would permit the cultivation of a truly egalitarian and just society.

However, she was not able to see these changes become reality. Under the Bolivarian government, there was evidently a process of discrimination and of profound psychological and moral violence, as regards requests made for social protection for her family, across the silence which pervaded between the decisions of the institutions of the state and her demands, a situation which repeates itself for thousands of Venezuelan families who cannot access the rights which seem to be privileges for certain models of family.

It is important to emphasize that when the Principal Registry Office and the National Electoral Council do not give positive responses to the requests for registration of the marriage of Giniveth and Migdelis, or for the registration of the birth of their son, they are exposing the juridical non-recognition of the Venezuelan citizenry of their son, and the non-protection of her spouse by rights which the institution of marriage awards to married couples (such as community property), leaving them only the protection of the laws of the Republic of Argentina, a country where they are subjects of full rights.

Her spouse Migdelis, demoralized and in tears during the wake, said: “Giniveth was right, we homosexuals are second-class citizens. I’m painted on the wall here; nothing I think or decide matters to anyone.” Meanwhile, Giniveth’s family decided to cremate a body which was the victim of a murder, and take away the ashes without consulting her spouse, at the same time as they said they understood and completely respected the relationship between the two women.

It is urgent to solve the murder of our valiant and unstoppable activist. A crime may not remain unpunished, and more so still if it is a crime that painfully afflicts the bases of the struggle for the defence of human rights of the Venezuelan sex-diverse population. It is imperative to do justice, but also it is critical to strengthen our public powers to guarantee the effective exercise of the right to live in freedom and equality, without discrimination or stigmas based in atavistic Judeo-Christian prejudices, without psychological or moral violence as consequences of a heterosexist, sexist and machista culture, in order to thus begin in Venezuela the socio-cultural change so longed for by her, developing concrete public policies such as the approval of the Equal Civil Marriage Law.

Translation mine.

In recognition of the need for equal rights and protection under law for Venezuelan LGBTIs, there was a demonstration this morning at 9 a.m. Activists called together by Giniveth’s group, AC Venezuela Igualitaria, as well as the Ejército Emancipador, gathered before the Legislative Palace, where the National Assembly meets, to request that National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello and the PSUV assembly members work to pass laws to protect and grant equal rights to the sex/gender-diverse community, in accordance with the principles set out by sections 2.2.4.2, 2.2.4.3, and 2.2.4.4 of the Bolivarian Constitution.

Chavecito himself said that “gays have a place in the Revolution, too”. That place cannot be secured by anything other than full equality. Otherwise, we’ll only end up hearing more stories like this, in which a same-sex spouse was shoved aside by blood relations and never consulted in the most basic matters, while a murder remains unsolved and the killer, whose motives and identity are still unknown at this hour, remains unpunished.

UPDATE: La Iguana TV reports that three parliamentarians have been designated to take on the equal-marriage legal project proposed by the activists. They are Modesto Ruíz, Dinorah Figuera and Eduardo Piñate. A petition of more than 20,000 signatures was delivered to the National Assembly last January, and it looks as though now, things are starting to speed up. Meanwhile, the Public Ministry has assigned the 48th national prosecutor, Víctor Hugo Barreto, and Caracas prosecutor Susan Ferreira, to investigate the murder of Giniveth Soto. Here’s hoping there’s plenty of action on that front, too.

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