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Hugo Chavez on LGBT Persecution and Marriage Equality


In an interview conducted at the Venice Film Festival in September, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is asked his thoughts on marriage equality.

Answers Chavez, in a series of questions: "I believe that... look, each country has its customs, no? At least, in Venezuela, it is not well-regarded, no? But there are societies, there are societies, there are ideas which continue to mature [EDIT] ...what I am indeed against is any persecution against anyone based on sexual orientations...Now, [as far as gay marriage]... The same as Venezuelans, as the majority of Venezuelans, those of us who don't see it as being's a state of opinion, it's a state of opinion. Which doesn't mean we are in opposition, that I am in opposition of what you might think."

Translation by Andres Duques at Blabbeando, who dug up the rare clip. Duques notes that Chavez' responses have been truncated as the interview is edited: "All in all, Chavez admits a couple of things: 1) He thinks that being gay is a 'sexual orientation' instead of being an identity; 2) Interestingly, he thinks that marriage equality is a symbol of a 'mature' society and yet he sides with the Venezuelan population that believes marriage equality is wrong, and; 3) He says that he is against persecution against anyone based on sexual orientation."


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  1. Chavez knows who he must play up to on the international stage. He certainly was damning with faint praise, but Venezuelans have far more pressing issues than gay marriage and gay rights, which to 99% of those outside the bourgeois first world is, AT BEST, fringe issue(s)

    Gay people who praise Chavez, Castro, et al., really have their head up their ass.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 19, 2009 5:06:48 PM

  2. I disagree with the analysis. "Ideas continuing to mature" does not imply that a mature society would have those ideas.

    Posted by: Randy | Nov 19, 2009 5:24:20 PM

  3. Come on. You're expecting him to parse sexual orientation as opposed to identity? Good luck finding many US politicians, much less citizens, who could explain the difference.

    Posted by: Paul R | Nov 19, 2009 5:26:00 PM

  4. The analysis on 2) mentions "sexual orientation" as if it has a bad connotation.

    Make sure there is no abuse of language there. I'm Francophone and "orientation sexuelle" is commonly used in canada, one of the pioneers in gay rights, and it is very accepted and often used expression. Chavez might translated word for word the expression from spanish, where it they come from the same latin roots as french does AND the expression is commonly used in spanish as well (if i remember my spanish classes well).


    Posted by: charles Fournier | Nov 19, 2009 5:39:24 PM

  5. Basically he just waffled round it, then.

    Even the average American fundamentalist denies wanting to persecute people for their sexual orientation. Show me deeds and policies, not words.

    Posted by: Dave Rattigan | Nov 19, 2009 5:41:34 PM

  6. I been told by someone gay from Caracas who had held talks with Chavez, that he [Chavez] was very progressive in regards to LGBT issues. I later read on El Nacional a report of this guy and others being spotted exiting Miraflores on different opportunities, late at night on unofficial meetings. All I can make about this, is that the gay issue resonates with Chavez, either he is bisexual, have gay relatives or is close to someone gay. Either way, none of the above changes his political reality. Chavez has many self inflicted problems he has to resolve before he can make a difference in the lives of others. Although there is no organized sociopolitical agenda against LGBT people in Venezuela, there is no culture for their acceptance. There is a lot of prejudice and most gay people live in the closet, even those with substantial power.

    Posted by: Rafael | Nov 19, 2009 5:44:20 PM

  7. His answer reminds me of Charles Durning's musical number in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas...

    Posted by: Michael W. | Nov 19, 2009 5:53:03 PM

  8. Cyndi Lauper's tour Bring Ya To The Brink was supposed to end in Caracas Venezuela but Hugo Chavez decided to cancell her concert because she promoted equal right for all. This guy is a complete ass!

    Posted by: Justin | Nov 19, 2009 6:49:56 PM

  9. What is it with the gays looking to oppressive Leftist regimes as somehow progressive on gay issues. Castro, Chavez--they just talk the talk to look better than the U.S. Chavez doesnt give ANY of his people civil liberties. Because he mutters a few waffling words Im supposed to move to Caracas? At least our douchebag politicians can be voted out of office. Chavez is well on his way to president-for-life a la Castro.

    Posted by: dizzyspins | Nov 19, 2009 7:23:08 PM

  10. Truth be told, Chavez may find it silly to oppress people due to sexual orientation, when he prefers to oppress them for so many other reasons.

    Posted by: cls | Nov 19, 2009 11:15:53 PM

  11. miami just keeps it up, making anti-hugo stuff up out of whole cloth, not bothering with citations or statments from lauper herself. nice try, amigas!

    Posted by: unokhan | Nov 19, 2009 11:18:20 PM

  12. Hugo Chavez is a lousy person, make no mistake. I mean, if the benchmark is improvement in the lives of average venezuelans, you don't have to be...a good person for that. He's curtailed freedom of speech to the degree that the media in venezuela exists to promote his ideals. But this...I dunno, this kind of indifference of south american enlighteneds means nothing in terms of tangible difference.

    His redeeming quality seems to be his ability to irritate the religious right in this country by his refusal to entertain u.s. exploitation/imperialism of natural resources in his country. That's gotta be worth something. Chances are if the religious right is peeved by x, x is a good thing. Nay, a great thing worthy of praise.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 19, 2009 11:24:12 PM

  13. In fact, if you lack a moral compass of your own for whatever reason, look at what the religious right stands for, and follow the exact opposite to be a good person.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 19, 2009 11:26:17 PM

  14. Chavez started out with a fair amount of legitimacy. He got elected in relatively fair and free elections in 1998 and 2000. But like many populist leaders, he got greedy and started violating his own rules.

    Especially since 2007 when the voters rejected his plan to rule Venezuela forever, Chavez has become increasingly autocratic and unreasonable. He respected the results of that election for about five seconds. Then his cronies in the legislature passed a constitutional amendment sans referendum allowing him to rule Venezuela forever any way. One wonders why he bothered to hold an election in the first place.

    And then, of course, there are the recent attempts by the Venezuelan government to strong arm the previously independent media into becoming their very own "FOX News." And the disposing of political enemies with ridiculous criminal charges. Given all that, and after such a promising start, the "Bolivarian Revolution" is beginning to look like all the other failed revolutions of the last century.

    Posted by: John | Nov 20, 2009 1:19:50 AM

  15. I agree, Chalres. I also think the analysis makes it seem like the term sexual orientation is somehow being used negatively: "He thinks that being gay is a 'sexual orientation' instead of being an identity"

    But I admit I'm completely confused by this statement or its relevance. In social psychological terms, "gay" is an identity label that some people use to describe their sexual orientation, while sexual orientation refers to a combination of sexual behavior, sexual desire and the label one applies to the sexual self. In this framework, neither sexual orientation nor sexual identity has a negative connotation yet the above statement makes it seem like we're supposed to think its relevant to understanding the attitudes of Chavez.

    Am I missing something? I'd be curious to hear what others think even though I agree this is a relatively small point.

    Posted by: Aaron | Nov 20, 2009 2:14:12 AM

  16. How is this different to how our US politicians think?
    We have so much work at home in regards to GLBT issues. I really do not care what this man says.

    Posted by: Shan | Nov 20, 2009 7:41:45 AM

  17. Hi to everyone, I'm a gay venezuelan guy. In 2007 he wanted to change the constitution of our country proposing a very totalitary new one. Among other stuff like getting all the power to himself and void private property, he proposed legalize gay marriage.

    The proposal was denied by the people in our country. Since then, all the proposal where done by changing the laws, but legalize gay marriage was never spoken again. That clearly was a populistic proposal in order to gain votes to his totalitary project.

    Posted by: Eduardo | Nov 20, 2009 8:30:02 AM

  18. Aaron, I agree with you COMPLETELY. And, as an Argentinean, I can tell you that (just like the Francophone commenter) "sexual orientation" and "sexual identity" are NOT two distinct terms, in colloquial language at least. That Chavez is a complete shit is obvious, but not in this case. If anything, he is reflecting the state of his people who, like Eduardo comments, oppose gay marriage. Obama would do the same freaking thing (siding with the majority simply because he needs to keep everyone happy).

    Posted by: Phineas | Nov 20, 2009 12:44:26 PM

  19. Yes, I have to admit that I'm confused about how or when "sexual orientation" became a bad phrase compared to "sexual identity." In fact, I've very rarely heard the term "sexual identity."

    Posted by: Joseph | Nov 20, 2009 1:44:17 PM

  20. Lets not take this minor league Castro wanna be as progressive on gay rights.

    Posted by: jaragon | Nov 20, 2009 6:11:42 PM

  21. The notion that Chavez cancelled Cyndy Laupers concer tis FALSE and fabricated and has been refuted.

    Chavez has done a lot for lgbtq people by increasing health care and literacy etc. in that country and things continue to improve contrary to the corporate US media reports.

    Posted by: mark | Nov 20, 2009 6:24:30 PM

  22. Nicely put, Phineas:)

    Posted by: Aaron | Nov 21, 2009 3:57:20 PM

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