Khinverly Marrero / Venezuela
“This happened a few years ago, I think in 2018. I was waiting for my girlfriend sitting at the Ipsfa food fair (a shopping center in Caracas managed by the Venezuelan Armed Forces). When she arrived, she greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and hugged me. A military man who was at the fair, I think high-ranking, saw us and immediately grabbed her phone to make a call.
Two corporals arrived, to whom he told them aloud that we were having immoral behaviors, that it was a disgusting situation because we were two women, and that is why they had to get us out immediately.
We both defended ourselves, especially my girlfriend, and I understood that the man had power because the corporals grabbed each of us by the arm to throw us out of the mall. I thought: “If I argue, I end up in jail, because the arrechera (anger in the Venezuelan dialect) is going to rise to my head.” I told them: “Ok, but don’t touch us”. They walked us to the exit and told us that we couldn’t go back there together.
That was horrible. I remember how demoralized we felt. We never came back. We went to safer places, like Galerías Ávila or El Recreo (two private shopping centers in Caracas). However, then a similar situation happened to us with a guard from El Recreo, but this time we didn’t tolerate it and we defended ourselves until he was silent.”
Testimony of Khinverly Marrero, a 30-year-old Venezuelan psychologist.
In Venezuela, where equal marriage and homoparental adoption are still illegal, a rule that penalizes homosexuality is still in force. It is about article 565 of the Organic Code of Military Justice, included within the chapter On Cowardice and other Crimes against Military Decorum, which establishes that “any military person who commits unnatural sexual acts” will be “punished with imprisonment from one to three years and separation from the Armed Forces ”. Recently, on November 29, 2021, the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSP) admitted the motion for annulment due to unconstitutionality against the article filed by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Venezuela Igualitaria in 2016.
In the National Armed Forces, HIV is seen as synonymous with homosexuality. One of the requirements to enter the FAN is the HIV test. If it is seropositive, the applicant cannot enter, and those who are already inside are retested annually and before each promotion. According to an investigation by the Venezuelan portal Armando.info, since the first case of HIV in the Venezuelan military sector was confirmed, in 1987, until 2007, the Ministry of Defense registered 570 seropositive officers. Of that amount, 60% belonged to the enlisted troops, “who usually enter the military service already infected,” the official reports available indicate. In 2018 the unofficial figure was more than 1,200 cases.”