Inter-American Court finds Peru responsible for discriminatory torture against an LGBTI person and orders the State to combat discrimination

In a groundbreaking ruling published on 6th April 2020, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) has found Peru responsible for the torture and sexual violence against an LGBTI person by Peruvian police officers in 2008. SRT grantee REDRESS provided legal assistance to Azul Rojas Marín in her case on discriminatory torture, leading to a series of measures to not only redress the damage to her, but to also prevent these crimes being repeated to other LGBTI people in Peru, in declaring the State of Peru internationally responsible for the violation of the rights to personal liberty, personal integrity, privacy, not to be subjected to torture, judicial guarantees, and the judicial protection of Rojas Marín.

In 2008, Rojas Marín, who at the time self-identified as a gay man and now identifies as a woman, was arrested without reason and taken to the Casa Grande police station, where she was held until 6am without her arrest being registered. During that time, she was stripped naked, beaten, sexually assaulted, and subjected to derogatory words in reference to her sexual orientation. After being released, she filed a complaint at the Peruvian National Police station which was dismissed and the file closed, despite various attempts by Rojas Marín to progress the complaint. The IACtHR found that the State of Peru did not act with due diligence in its investigation and that the process was riddled with discriminatory stereotypes. The Court also found that the torture was motivated by Rojas Marín’s sexual orientation, thereby classifying it as a hate crime, concluding that the attack “not only injured Azul Rojas Marín’s legal rights, but it was also a message to all LGBTI people, as a threat to the freedom and dignity of this entire social group.”

As a result of the ruling, future cases of this nature must now be effectively investigated, and training must be provided to state officials regarding the rights and treatment of LGBTI people, with a view to eradicate prejudice of this kind in Peru. The country has a history of “structural discrimination, stigmatisation and various forms of violence [towards LGBTI people] and violations of [their] fundamental rights,” according to the IACtHR. The ruling found that violence based on prejudice aims to prevent the targeted person from being able to exercise their human rights, regardless of whether that person self-identifies with a certain category or not.

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