BOGOTA, Dec 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An eight-year
legal battle by a gay Peruvian man who accused police of raping
him went before the Americas' leading human rights organisation
on Thursday in a landmark case to determine whether the alleged
crime was torture.
Lawyers for Luis Alberto Rojas said he was arbitrarily
detained by police in northern Peru in 2008. While in custody,
police forced him to strip, hit him and raped him with a
After his release, Rojas filed a criminal complaint against
the police for sexual violence, abuse of authority and torture
but his case was dismissed by state prosecutors, his lawyers
But three human rights groups, including UK-based
anti-torture group REDRESS, took Rojas' case to the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2009 - with
opening arguments finally heard on Thursday.
Lawyer Carla Ferstman said it is the first time the
commission was being asked to rule on a complaint of torture
against a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
"Our view is that in this type of context where an
individual is targeted because of his sexual orientation, the
abuse by police amounts to torture," Ferstman, who heads
REDRESS, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Peruvian police were not immediately available for comment.
Ferstman said when the complaint was first filed no one took
"LGBTI individuals are not only subjected to this type of
ill-treatment in custody. Also, often they are not believed,
they are not considered to be credible, they are laughed at,"
The complaint calls for the Peruvian government to give
financial compensation to Rojas and prosecute those responsible.
It also seeks guarantees to change Peru's laws to better
protect the rights of LGBT people and tackle the discrimination
they can face by police.
A 2015 study by the Peruvian government found that 90
percent of LGBT residents in and around the capital Lima had
been victims of some type of violence, of which nearly 19
percent was at the hands of state security agents.
The IACHR, part of the 35-member Organisation of American
States (OAS), could issue non-binding recommendations to the
Peruvian government, Ferstman said.
She added the IACHR could also recommend that the case goes
before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to rule on, a
process that could take years.
(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney, editing by Katie Nguyen and
Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation,
the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate
change. Visit news.trust.org)