On Friday October 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm, Yonatan Matheus and Omarliv Marques, members of Venezuela Diversa, were arbitrarily detained by Caracas police on Villaflor Street, Parroquia El Recreo (a street where clubs and pubs for LGBTI people are located) when they tried to obtain information from and film the actions of the police.
The police ultimately detained 19 gay and lesbian people, more than 11 of which were minors, confiscating their IDs and cell phones, abusing them verbally referring to their sexual orientation, and beating them. Omar hid his cell phone and was able to call his colleagues and the Ombudsmen Office. Among those detained were also two men who told the police that they were heterosexual. Unlike the people identified as gay and lesbian, these men were treated respectfully and were allowed to speak by telephone with officials.
The activists were left in the middle of Francisco Fajardo highway at 12:25 am along with two minors, and had to walk back to the city center. The rest of the detainees were taken to to Policaracas quarter #905. Hours later, the activists met with officials of Ombudsmen Office and explained what happened. The officials then went to the Policaracas quarter to check the status of the other detainees.
This incident is one of many arbitrary arrests carried out against the LGBTI community under the 'Operation Safe Caracas' campaign, meant to crack down on crime. The police harass and abuse people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity differs from social norms. These detentions are arbitrary under international human rights law and violate the right to life and security, to be free from arbitrary detention, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to be free from discrimination, to equality before the law, to freedom of expression, and to the rights of human rights defenders.
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Published on November 12, 2009 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization