Peru government found guilty of detention, rape of LGBT person
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has recently ruled that the Peru government was responsible for the arbitrary detention and rape of an LGBT person.
The landmark ruling by the top human rights court in the Americas was over the 2008 case of Azul Rojas Marin, who had been stripped, hit, and raped by three officers while in the custody.
Presently, same-sex couples are not allowed to marry or enter into civil unions in Peru. However, transgender people can change their gender legally.
Peru government’s arrest of Rojas Marin
In February 2008, Rojas Marin– currently a transwoman– was a gay man who was detained at night and taken to a police station in the town of Casa Grande.
Afterward, Rojas Marin filed a criminal complaint against the police officers. She was represented by the human rights groups Redress, the LGBT advocacy group PROMSEX, and the National Coordinator for Human Rights.
In Rojas Marin’s account, she was beaten, verbally abused for her sexual orientation, and robbed of her belongings.
Rojas Marin’s complaint was taken up but was later dismissed by state prosecutors. Activist groups brought the case to the international court, which took it up in 2018.
The court had been established by the Organization of American States (OAS) to hear cases of human rights abuses in Latin America.
Marin’s case “is a very emblematic case. It’s historic because it classifies the violence received by this woman as torture,” said Andre Mere Rivera, a local LGBT rights activist.
Court ruling against the Peru government
The court ruled last March 12 that Rojas Marin’s detention was “without a motive” and was based on “discrimination.” Thus, they said it was “illegal and arbitrary.”
In a statement, the court said further that Rojas Marin “was forcibly stripped naked, beaten on several occasions, tortured and raped,” and this constituted “an act of torture against the victim.”
“Consequently, the Court has declared Peru’s international responsibility for the violation of [her] rights,” they said.
The court further said the Peru government had “strong prejudices” against the LGBT population, and these manifested in certain cases in violent acts, including by state agents.
With this ruling, the court ordered the Peru government to pay Rojas Marin unspecified damages and provide her with psychological treatment. It also ordered the prosecution of the officers who tortured her.
This ruling was the first made by the court on a complaint of torture against the LGBT community. But the court had ruled in 2012 in favor of Karen Atala, a Chilean judge who had lost a custody battle because she was a lesbian.
Reactions to the court’s ruling on the case
Rojas Marín said she had “no words to describe how I feel” about the ruling and felt that “after all that happened, a court finally believed in my word.”
Redress declared the ruling “ground-breaking” and said that this will “also prevent these crimes being repeated.”
Gabriela Oporto Patroni, a lawyer with PROMSEX, told Washington Blade in an interview that Rojas “is very pleased with the sentence.”
“The Peruvian state in the entire process before the court, before the commission, all the time has denied the existence of discrimination against LGTB people in Peru,” Oporto also said.
“It is absolutely false that there is no discrimination against LGTB. The court has recognized that this context persists to this day,” Oporto further said.
Cristian Gonzalez Cabrera, an LGBT rights researcher of Human Rights Watch, said the ruling “should serve to remind authorities that violence and discrimination against LGBT people contravenes international human rights law.”