Although various laws, beginning with the Constitution, establish equal rights and prohibition of discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, the country is still far from meeting these guidelines, a gap that is even more noticeable in the prison system.
According to the report ‘Diversities in prison’, prepared by the Ombudsman’s Office, situations of aggression, discrimination and other circumstances persist in prisons that prevent the full exercise of the rights of LGBTI persons.
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For example, In 2019 alone, the Ombudsman accompanied 285 cases of violence due to prejudice and discrimination, where 108 cases went to transgender people, 91 gay men, 62 lesbian women, 17 bisexual women and 7 bisexual men. In addition, 39 of these cases corresponded to Venezuelan people.
The Ombudsman’s report refers to monitoring the situation of DD. H H. before and after resolution 6349 of 2016, which amended the prison regulations to include the obligation to respect the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
That resolution was the product of a lawsuit before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), brought by a lesbian woman who experienced institutional discrimination in different prisons for their sexual orientation.
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The international organization demanded that the State protect the rights of LGBTI people in prison, but the Ombudsman’s report concludes that although this represented progress, barriers still persist in this area.
The document states that LGBTI people are subjected to ridicule, humiliation and threats of sexual abuse, and there is even a record of victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Inpec personnel and other prisoners, supposedly, so that they “learn to be male” or “female.”
In addition to the aggression, the Ombudsman Office identified that these cases are rarely formally reported for fear of retaliation.
There is also information that in some penitentiary centers They impose limitations on inmates to dress or wear their hair according to their identity.
It was even identified that there are still restrictions on the entry of medicines and hormonal treatments to prison centers, elements of special relevance for the identity construction of transgender people.
Regarding the dynamics of intimate visits between same-sex couples, the Ombudsman’s Office found that they are marked by accusations and discrimination, as well as by the Repeated denial of permits by the authorities.
This was especially critical before the 2016 resolution, and there were cases such as that of the San Diego prison in Bolívar, where the inmates claimed that they could not be intimate because the prison regulations prevented expressions of affection or relationships between their partners. sex, and even, they said, it was considered an immoral act penalized with a dungeon for several days.
Since 2016, according to the report, access to intimate visits has improved, but there is still stigmatization of both guards and prisoners, and there are cases in which LGBTI people They ask for greater requirements to authorize the conjugal visit, such as a psychological interview.
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For all this, the Ombudsman’s Office needs to take more actions to promote respect for the rights of people with different sexual orientations and gender identities, since Inpec improves the information it has about the population and their specific needs, to designing pedagogical material and holding training sessions on the rights of LGBTI people.
Likewise, the entity emphasized the need for protocols for receiving complaints and access to justice with a differential approach for cases of discrimination and violence based on gender or sexual orientation.
Pandemic worsens prison situation: UN
UN mechanisms against torture warned that people deprived of liberty, who are already exposed to the risk of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment behind bars, face another threat with covid-19.
According to figures from the Prison Insider, cited by the UN, until mid-June 2020 more than 78,000 people in prison had contracted coronavirus in 79 countries, and at least 1,100 inmates had died from this virus in prisons in 35 countries.
In this regard, UN experts said that governments must guarantee the safety of persons deprived of liberty.
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“Such people should enjoy the same standards of health care available in the community, including access to tests for virus detection and medical treatment“said Dr. Jens Modvig, president of the Committee against Torture.
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