(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Bolivia’s Constitution of 2009 (Constitución Política del Estado, 2009) is one of the first in the world to expressly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Nonetheless, Article 63 of the Constitution bans gay marriage and there is no law recognising same-sex civil partnership.
In August 2012 Bolivian Senator, Hilda Saavedra, introduced a bill, currently under consideration, which would legalise marriage for gay and lesbian couples. In 2020, the Civil Registry Service announced its intention to issue civil union certificates offering legal rights, benefits and responsabilities of marriage to same-sex couples.
The 2004 Reproductive Rights Law guarantees the rights of all citizens regardless of sexual orientation.
The US granted asylum to a gay Bolivian based on the torture and sexual abuse that he had suffered due to his sexual orientation at the hands of both government officials and private actors in Bolivia.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The public attitudes of Bolivians are still heavily influenced by the Church, both Catholic and Evangelical, and indigenous beliefs, meaning that homosexuality and trans identity are generally understood as socially undesirable. The government has been heavily scrutinised for failing to prevent, investigate and punish attacks on LGBTI persons. According to a research by Heartland Alliance and Trebol, there are frequent reports of unequal treatment in gaining access to healthcare and within the education system. Students have been expelled from higher education institutions because of their sexual orientation, often, discriminated against by their peers as well as their teachers. NGOs have held meetings with the Ministry of Education to promote LGBTI education but have been unsuccessful thus far.
Societal discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons is common yet LGBTI rights organisations exist and marches take place. Santa Cruz and La Paz have hosted successful Gay Pride marches, an LGBTI film festival, gay art exhibitions, and the painting of a sexual diversity-themed mural near the famous, ‘Puentes Trillizos,’ in La Paz. Additionally, ‘La Famalia Galan,’ a group of drag queens, led by transsexual activist, David Arequipa, has been in the public eye for many years and ran a popular television show.
A report by the Libertad Gay Movement in La Paz (MGLP Libertad), referred to in the 1999 Canadian guidance paper on the situation of gays and lesbians in Bolivia, stated that LGBTI persons were being denied their civil rights, beaten, faced taunts, insults and threats to expose their sexuality publicly. Gay bars and small LGBTI community groups exist in Santa Cruz and La Paz but there is a general consensus amongst LGBTI persons to keep their sexual orientation discreet.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
No NGOs working with LGBTI persons in Bolivia are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We have no specialist on LGBTI issues in Bolivia, but would welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Krista Holliston