Same-gender sexual activities for both men and women are legal in Venezuela and have never been punishable since Venezuelan independence. Same-gender marriage is constitutionally banned since 1999. Nevertheless, in November 2017, President Maduro expressed his personal support for same-gender marriage. There are currently discussions to allow it under the new Constitution of Venezuela with a majority support in the Assembly. However, same-gender couples are not eligible for the same legal rights available to opposite-gender married couples and are unable to legally adopt children. Nonetheless, lesbian couples are allowed to access in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Venezuelan law allows transgender people to change their legal gender and name on some official documents without sterilisation surgery. In Venezuela, few legal instruments in the workplace, rental, and banking system, provide a small level of protection against discrimination for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
LGBTQIA+ Venezuelans are vulnerable to discrimination, violence, and social rejection. Homophobic abuse and behavior in society as well as police harassment have been reported. The political crisis in Venezuela has affected the LGBTQIA+ community. Same-gender couples were excluded from the state’s family food-bag scheme, under government limits. Transgender people also struggle to find food supplies because the government does not issue identity documents recognising their gender identity. Based on research in 2014, 42% of Venezuelans accepted homosexuality whereas only 28% supported same-gender marriage.
There are several individual activists in Venezuela. Also, 22 LGBTQIA+ organisations have been registered through ILGA listed below:
A.C Orgullo GLBT Venezuela, AC Venezuela Igualitaria, Accion Zuliana por la Vida, Alianza Lambda de Venezuela, Asesoria en educacion y salud de Venezuela – ASES, BASE LESBICA VENEZUELA, Bloque Socialista Unido de Liberacion homosexual, Colectivo Almas, Divas de Venezuela, Diversidad e Igualdad a través de la Ley, FESTDIVQ- Festival Venezolano de Cine de la Diversidad, Funadacion Integral Por la Vida Ernesto Patty Velazquez, Fundacion Reflejos de Venezuela – FRV, Fundacion Venezolana de Apoyo a la Diversidad Sexual, Fundación Base Lésbica, Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral, Maturin es Diversidad, Movimiento SOMOS, Movimiento la cultura es Diversa, Unión Afirmativa de Venezuela, Venezuela Diversa Asociacion Civil.
The economic and political crisis in Venezuela added to the existing social pressures on LGBTQIA+ communities and lead to displacement. They were forced to flee Venezuela and claim asylum in other South American countries such as Colombia, Chile, Panama, Dominican Republic and European countries. Some of them forced into sex work in destination countries.