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In a landmark case, Americas’ top human rights body is hearing the first LGBT torture case.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights observed opening arguments last week after an eight-year legal battle to get the case heard.

Three human rights groups, including UK-based anti-torture group REDRESS, took Rojas’ complaints seriously and brought the case before the commission.

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 truncheon.

Even though the prosecution authorities recognised that sufficient evidence existed to open an investigation for rape and abuse of authority, they declined to open an investigation for torture. The prosecution later decided to close the investigation into rape and abuse of authority and the tribunal responsible for the case closed it.

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 LGBT community.

She told Reuters: “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.

“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.”

Speaking at the hearing, Ivan Bazan, a state prosecutor representing the Peruvian government, said Rojas was lawfully detained by the police and that a proper and timely investigation was carried out.

The case continues.

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