Mass arrest at LGBTQ club in Venezuela prompts outcry over discrimination

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08/10/2023

It was an otherwise ordinary night at the Avalon Club, a bar and sauna popular with the LGBTQ community in Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city. Music was playing, drinks were flowing and guests were enjoying the accommodations, which included a restaurant, smoking room and massage parlour. But that evening, on July 23, police would burst into the club, propelling the venue and its patrons into the national spotlight — and sparking questions about LGBTQ discrimination in Venezuela. Patrons would later recount how the police arrived shouting, “Hands up!” “I was having a drink with some of my best friends,” one guest, Ivan Valera, later told local media. “I thought it was a joke.” But the officers proceeded to round up the 33 men in the establishment and hold them in the sauna’s locker rooms.

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