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Peru refuses to recognize lesbian congresswoman’s U.S. marriage

Susel Paredes married her wife in Miami in 2016



Susel Paredes, left, and Gracia Aljovín during an interview on Peruvian television in 2019. (Photo courtesy of

Peruvian Congresswoman Susel Paredes and her wife, Gracia Aljovín, have told the Washington Blade that they will sue Peru over its refusal to recognize their 2016 marriage in Miami.

Paredes and Aljovín made the decision after the Peruvian Constitutional Court denied their request to register their marriage. The couple had previously filed a request with the National Registry of Identification and Civil Status (RENIEC), which was also denied.

Peru’s highest court by a 4-2 margin rejected the women’s petition, noting the “essential elements” of marriage in the country are “a voluntary union … to be celebrated between a man and a woman,” and as a consequence “a right acquired abroad that collides with this notion cannot be recognized in Peru.” 

The majority of the judges who ruled against Paredes and Aljovín also noted they cannot reproduce.

Some organizations described the ruling as anti-LGBTQ because it also establishes that “homosexual unions are not marriages, so it is not discriminatory not to recognize them as such” and that the court cannot “introduce equal marriage through the window because this is the work of the legislator.” At the same time, the court said that if Congress wants to introduce same-sex marriage in Peru, it must do so through a constitutional reform.

Paredes, along with regretting the decision, acknowledged to the Blade that “it was bad news that I was already expecting.” 

“We knew this was going to happen because I am not only an activist and congresswoman, I am a lawyer, so I follow the criteria. One can predict what is going to happen with a sentence when there are predictable judges. These judges are predictable,” she said from her congressional office in Lima, the Peruvian capital, during a video call. “The truth is that it is outrageous because I pay my taxes, I have lived with my partner for years, we have a family, so how is it possible that our family is denied its existence, because we exist.” 

The congresswoman said that “in the first instance we are going to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The commission must evaluate if it qualifies and if it qualifies in our favor, we go to the court and in the court we vote and I am sure we will win.” 

Peru is one of the few countries in Latin America that does not have any laws in favor of LGBTQ people. A marriage equality bill that former Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, who is gay, introduced has been dormant in a congressional committee for years.

Paredes said the right wing will “undoubtedly use” the ruling “and its foundations, but its foundations are very fragile.”

De Belaunde has a similar opinion. 

“Congress will use this ruling as an excuse not to legislate on this issue. If they feel a lot of media pressure, they will look for a sort of patrimonial civil union, where the existence of a family is not recognized, but only a shared patrimony,” said the former congressman. “An absolutely insufficient figure, which will not be accepted by the LGBT+ communities because it is almost an insult to our claims to be recognized as full citizens.” 

For him “the ruling not only seeks to deny the recognition of rights, it seeks to do harm.” 

“Contrary to what the Constitutional Court has previously said, it seeks to discredit the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by pointing out that its advisory opinions should not be complied with,” he said. “It is a mediocre ruling — it ignores basic concepts of private international law, but it is no less harmful for that.” 

Both agreed that Congress has little political will to process the bill. 

“Laws have been passed that have been presented much later than the date when the marriage law was presented, which was in October of last year,” Paredes emphasized to the Blade. “There is a political will to prevent if you want it to be discussed.”

Pía Bravo, executive director of Presentes, a Peruvian LGBTQ rights advocacy group, told the Blade that they were hopeful that the ruling could have enshrined the first legal recognition for LGBTQ people in the country. 

“The Constitutional Court was an opportunity we missed,” Bravo lamented. “It is a pretty big setback and it is a setback that unfortunately we are going to have to continue, to continue facing and seeing what other paths, what other ways we can find so that this so necessary right is finally approved.”


Latin America

Transgender woman running to become Venezuela’s next president

Assemblywoman Tamara Adrián a candidate in party’s Oct. 22 primary



Venezuelan National Assemblywoman Tamara Adrián completes paperwork to run in the country's presidential election. (Photo courtesy of Tamara Adrián)

Tamara Adrián less than two weeks ago registered as a presidential candidate in the Venezuelan primary, becoming the first openly transgender person in the world to make such a move.

The 69-year-old lawyer, university professor and LGBTQ and intersex rights defender is running to represent the Unidos por la Dignidad political movement and will have to compete with at least 10 other candidates in the country’s Oct. 22 primary.

“I am the first transgender in history to officially run in a presidential election,” Adrián told the Washington Blade.

Whoever wins the primary will have to compete against President Nicolás Maduro in 2024.

Adrián wants to be the person to confront Chavismo in her country.

“We have united all the parties and political forces in Venezuela, from the left to the right, with a common goal, which is to end the regime of Nicolás Maduro,” she explained to the Blade. 

For her, it is very important to oust Maduro and help Venezuela get out of the humanitarian and economic crisis that is affecting millions of people in the South American country.

Many Venezuelans do not have any food in their homes. A lack of work, low salaries and poor access to health care has caused millions of them to migrate to other countries in search of a better life. 

Discrimination and violence against LGBTQ and intersex Venezuelans remains commonplace, so Adrián’s candidacy affords visibility.

“I am proud to be who I am,” she said. “I want any LGBTQ person living in this hostile country to know that you can get ahead and even become a presidential candidate.”

“I say the things that no one says,” added Adrián, who noted this attribute sets her apart from her competitors and other Venezuelan politicians. 

One of her main campaign promises will be to work for the inclusion of “people with disabilities, women, senior citizens, civil servants, LGBTIQ+ people, people of African descent, indigenous people, any group that, for whatever reason, has been or may be left behind.”

Venezuela’s last presidential election took place in 2018, and Venezuelans and the international community deemed them illegal. This determination provoked the rise of interim President Juan Guaidó who the U.S. and dozens of other countries recognized as the country’s president.

Opposition leaders were imprisoned, exiled or disqualified from participating in the election and international observers were not in the country. The National Electoral Council said 46 percent of eligible voters participated in the election, which means more than half of the electorate did not vote.

“Effectively there are less and less voters in the elections and this has to do with the fact that people are losing confidence in the processes,” said Adrián. “There is a feeling that the results will be manipulated and not respected.”

She nevertheless stressed Venezuelans must keep trying and demanding transparency in their country’s political process in order for a united opposition can win elections democratically and focus on building a better future for the country.

“We know that the scenario is difficult but we are not going to lower our arms because we have to put an end to this crisis,” said Adrián. “We are going with everyone and for everyone.”

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Latin America

Mariela Castro dismisses reports of transgender prisoner’s treatment

Brenda Díaz in prison after participating in anti-government protest



Brenda Díaz (Photo courtesy of Ana María García Calderín/Tremenda Nota)

The daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro this week described the case of a transgender woman who is serving a 14-year prison sentence after she participated in an anti-government protest in 2021 as “an oversized story full of fantasies.”

Mariela Castro, who directs Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education, spoke about Brenda Díaz during an interview that Agencia EFE published on May 3.

Authorities arrested Díaz in Güira de Melena in Artemisa province on July 11, 2021.

The Güira de Melena protest was one of dozens against the Cuban government that took place across the country on that day.

A Havana court last year sentenced Díaz to 14 years in prison. Cuba’s highest court later upheld the sentence.

The State Department in a previous statement to the Washington Blade that called for Díaz’s release expressed concern over her “well-being” amid “reports that she is being held in a men’s prison and is not receiving appropriate medical treatment.” 

Díaz’s mother has previously said her daughter, who lives with HIV, has access to antiretroviral drugs, but other medications are not always available. Díaz’s mother has also complained about the “very bad quality” of food in prison.

“Brenda is very well there,” Mariela Castro told Agencia EFE. “She does not know that she is a media figure that has been invented against Cuba.”

Mariela Castro said Díaz receives “very good food, better than her family has” in prison, and she is able to participate in sport activities and a library. Mariela Castro further described reports about Díaz and her case as “little gossips” and “a media show by the press and corporate agencies.”

“It is sad that the same lie to attack Cuba with this story continues to be reproduced,” said Mariela Castro. 

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Latin America

Anti-LGBTQ candidates win Paraguay elections

Country’s president-elect is member of ruling Colorado Party



Paraguayan President-elect Santiago Peña (Screen capture via Al Jazeera English)

Paraguay’s presidential and congressional elections took place on April 30.

No openly queer candidates ran in the elections, while the presidential hopefuls did not put forth proposals in favor of LGBTQ and intersex Paraguayans. Anti-LGBTQ leaders, however, during the campaign managed to deepen discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through hate speech in public debates.

Paraguay is one of the Latin American countries without any public policy or legislation that protects queer rights.

Current President Mario Abdo’s Colorado Party will remain in power after President-elect Santiago Peña won the presidential election.

“There is not much surprise in how the Colorados operated, nor is it surprising that people’s discontent seeks an outlet in more extreme candidacies,” Gabriel Grommeck of SomosGay, a Paraguayan LGBTQ and intersex rights group, told the Washington Blade after the election results became known.

Grommeck pointed to the “American syndrome of extreme positions based on disinformation, which, when agitated by the media and social networks managed by corporations, are transformed into successful candidacies.” 

“It is very present here,” said Grommeck.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry last November issued a circular to all of its branches that contained a “glossary” of recommended terms to used in discussions and negotiations on gender issues. The document said these terms are not “universally accepted” and “could collide with legal regulations of our country.”

The prohibited terms are:

• “Women and girls in all their diversity” 

• “Diversity”

• “Intersectionality”

• “Sexual and reproductive rights” 

• “Full autonomy”

“The government interprets the concept ‘gender’ as referring to the male and female sexes, and with that scope it has been incorporated into national documents,” reads the circular. “Its objective was to ‘instruct’ diplomats not to use ‘ambiguous’ or ‘undefined’ terminology. 

Grommeck told the Blade the Colorado Party’s victory amounts to a defeat for the country’s LGBTQ and intersex rights movement, which will have for four more years a government that has deepened inequity for queer people in the South American country. Grommeck also said the Paraguayan Congress has little interest in increased inclusion.

“We don’t see much opportunity,” said Grommeck. “The makeup of the Parliament makes it very difficult to make any progress in the next legislature.”

Openly gay U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay Marc Ostfield on April 30 congratulated Peña after his election.

“We congratulate the Paraguayan people and President-elect Santiago Peña for another day of civil participation,” tweeted Ostfield. “We will continue to work together to strengthen our excellent bilateral relations and promoting transparency and an inclusive democracy.”

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