Wednesday, December 16, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009

World AIDS Day (WAD) on December 1, 2009, was commemorated under the theme ‘Universal Access and Human Rights,’ which will foreground global observances on HIV over the next year. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon placed on record a strong message urging the repeal of “punitive laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response.” He was clear that laws which institutionalize discrimination against sex workers and men who have sex with men only serve to fuel the HIV epidemic and prevent cost-effective programmes. While we commend these calls consistently being made at the international level, SASOD is alarmed that even the rhetoric at home seems to be wearing thin. In an ambiguous interview reported just a week before WAD in the Stabroek News of November 24, 2009, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy has said that he does not view homosexual sex as criminal but at the same time it would be a mistake to impose decriminalization on the nation. There also seems to be some confusion that decriminalization is equivalent to legalization, as Minister Ramsammy is also quoted saying “Criminalizing it is wrong, but that doesn’t mean we should legalize it either.”
Responding to Minister Ramsammy’s comments, SASOD Co-Chairpersons, Namela Baynes-Henry and Joel Simpson took issue with his dubious positions. “Minister Ramsammy needs to lead Guyana’s HIV response to live up to the commitments to universal access and human rights the government has made abroad,” charged Henry, who represented SASOD last year at the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS where Minister Ramsammy acknowledged the need to address antiquated laws which stigmatise marginalized groups. “Why is he ‘singing a different tune’ now? Minister Ramsammy should ‘talk the talk’ and ‘walk the walk’ as Guyana has signed UN declarations to that effect,” she added. Picking up on this point, fellow Co-Chair Simpson added, “If the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS means nothing to Minister Ramsammy, then the Guyana government should not have signed on. Why are we putting on one face on the international stage and then when we are at home it’s a different story? That just smacks of hypocrisy.” Simpson continued that “I want to remind Minister Ramsammy that these discriminatory laws were imposed on us by our colonial rulers. Decriminalizing behaviours of stigmatized minority groups, which should not have been criminalised in the first place, is in no way an imposition on the majority. The state is duty bound to protect its minorities, regardless of what opinion polls say. This is the true test of any real democracy – how well we protect our minorities.”
Minister Ramsammy’s reported remarks had seemingly marred the climate for advocacy on “universal access and human rights” but thankfully civic organizations were brave and bold where political courage is apparently now diminishing. First, the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU) in its WAD message called for all vulnerable groups including sexual and gender minorities to have equal access to HIV prevention without discrimination, as this is critical to halt the spread of the disease. “Same-sex relationships must be decriminalized so that these persons dare to exercise their rights and seek health services,” its statement unequivocally said. Following on, the National AIDS Committee (NAC) its WAD press release called for rights-related barriers to universal access to be addressed, including the failure to decriminalize same-sex intimacy which discourages men who have sex with men from seeking health services and tackle homophobia promoted by religious dogma, popular culture and negative masculinities. We salute the CCWU and the NAC for their principled positions on these issues.
Even as the United States Embassy in Georgetown announced its renewal of support for the next five years to HIV response in Guyana through the President’s Emergency Fund Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we are concerned that the funding allocated for prevention programmes is not reaching the most affected communities. “While national HIV prevalence in Guyana has been declining, and that is to be commended, HIV prevalence among MSM in Guyana remains scandalously high at an unrestrained 21 per cent,” said Ian McKnight, who is the new Executive Director at the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), a regional coalition which supports frontline organizations working with vulnerable groups. “I am dismayed that in a Caribbean country with such elevated rates of HIV among MSM, that existing community-based organizations advocating for the health and human rights of these groups are not able to access funds to implement prevention programmes,” he noted. McKnight was referring to a recent debacle between USAID’s local PEPFAR programme in Guyana, and SASOD.
This past July, SASOD was invited by the Guyana HIV & AIDS Reduction and Prevention Phase II project (GHARP II) to participate in an institutional assessment to determine if SASOD meets USAID’s eligibility criteria for funding. On July 27, 2009, SASOD was formally notified by GHARP II on behalf of Community Support and Development Services Inc (CSDS), local funding agent for USAID, that SASOD was approved to receive funding for the financial year October 2009 to September 2010 contingent upon participation in the funding process laid out by CSDS and GHARP II. SASOD participated in a series of NGO work-planning activities culminating in the submission of a work plan and budget for funding on August 14, 2009 and receiving feedback for revisions from GHARP II and its affiliate, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), on August 24, 2009. On Monday, August 31, 2009, at 8:45 hrs, SASOD received a telephone call summoning a representative to an urgent meeting at 10:00 hrs that day for all the NGOs involved in the funding process.
At that meeting, a representative of USAID in Guyana, Edris George, announced that due to a decrease in the overall PEPFAR budgetary allocation for 2010, that out of the 3 new NGOs to be funded, SASOD and a CBO working on HIV prevention with vulnerable groups, would not be receiving operational funding.
This announcement was subsequently confirmed in writing in an email sent by a CSDS staffer on September 2, 2009. SASOD responded to USAID, CSDS and GHARP II by email on September 7, 2009, calling out the homophobia SASOD has experienced with a CSDS official, and rejecting any form of collaboration or partnership with USAID, CSDS and GHARP II other than that which was originally proposed to receive direct funding. To date, 3 months later, none of these agencies has responded to the concerns raised by SASOD directly with them.
Reacting to these reports, Dr Robert Carr, Co-Chair of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) expressed disappointment that frontline organizations working with vulnerable groups are not equally able to access resources to implement prevention programmes. “This is a huge blow to community-based efforts to stem the tide of HIV among MSM in Guyana,” Dr Carr posited. “The local PEPFAR programme has lost a golden opportunity to make inroads in providing prevention services to key populations which are very hard to reach,” he added.
As we approach the next United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS (UNGASS) review and reporting period in 2010, Guyana is still missing the mark in terms of attaining universal access for HIV by failing to reach key populations necessary to halt the spread of the epidemic.
It seems as if the promise to “stop AIDS” is the proverbial ‘comfort to a fool’ for communities most affected by the stigma and spread of the disease.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

GLBTIQ Issues Make Inroads at Commonwealth Summit

For the first time at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, at CHOGM in Trinidad & Tobago, there was significant representation of GLBTQ (gay/lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender/ queer) activists among civil society participants, and a concerted effort to highlight issues of sexual citizenship and rights. A delegation of GLBTQ activists from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean participated actively in the thematic assembly discussions and drafting process in the November 22-25, 2009 Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF), a gathering of civil society organizations that meets in advance of, and sends a statement to, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Working in partnership with gender, disabilities and other human rights advocates, they achieved visibility for a number of key concerns, and won inclusion of these issues in the broad civil society agenda for the Commonwealth.

The issues cut a wide swath: repealing laws criminalizing non-normative sexualities and gender expression; preventing and prosecuting bias-related murders and violence, including punitive rape of Lesbians; ending discrimination in accessing health services; creating safety in the school system from violence and bullying; addressing the need for support and resources for parents; and developing training and sensitization for a range of public servants and service providers. Both scheduled speakers and participants from the floor made moving contributions related to human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Commonwealth member countries. Especially powerful speeches came from Ashily Dior, a Transgender activist from Trinidad; Canadian Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS Free World and former UN Special Envoy on HIV in Africa; and Robert Carr, director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. Together, contributors raised a comprehensive range of concerns in several of the assemblies, particularly those focused on Gender; Health, HIV and AIDS; and Human Rights.

The final Port of Spain Civil Society Statement to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting includes language calling on “Commonwealth Member States and Institutions” to “recognize and protect the human rights of all individuals without discrimination on the grounds of…sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression”; to “repeal legislation that leads to discrimination, such as the criminalisation of same sex sexual relationships” ; and for “the Commonwealth Foundation to facilitate a technical review of such of laws”. Further, it issues a call for “Commonwealth Member States to ensure universal access to basic” health “services for marginalised and vulnerable groups”, including “sexual and gender minorities”, and to “work to actively remove and prevent the establishment of legislation which undermines evidence-based effective HIV prevention, treatment and care available to marginalised and vulnerable groups, such as sexual minorities”. Its Gender section includes a distinct item on “Transgenders, Gays and Lesbians” (“We call on Commonwealth Member States to include gender and sexuality as a specific theme on sexualities, sexual and gender minorities, related violence and discrimination, making them no longer invisible”) and echoes the recognition in the human rights section “that gender equity implies equality for all and therefore issues related to non-normative sexualities, such as sexual and gender minorities”.

The Statement also makes reference to proposed “Anti-Homosexuality” legislation introduced in the Parliament of Uganda, home of current CHOGM Chair President Yoweri Museveni. The legislation would require reporting of homosexuals, provide a sentence of life imprisonment for homosexual touching or sex, and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” , if the offender is HIV-positive. In remarks in more than one CPF assembly and in a special press conference, Lewis, Carr and a representative of the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance, spoke out forcefully against the legislation, asking Museveni to take a clear position on it, and calling on others to condemn it. The Trinidad & Tobago Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation joined these voices, asking its own Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who will assume the chairmanship of CHOGM, and other CARICOM leaders, to do the same.

Eighty-six countries in the world currently have legislation criminalizing same-sex conduct between consenting adults as well as other non normative sexual and gender behaviours and identities; half of them are Commonwealth member states. Criminal provisions in these countries may target same sex sexual conduct, men who have sex with men specifically, or more generally any sexual behaviour considered “unnatural”. Some countries criminalize other non normative behaviours, such as cross-dressing, or utilize criminal provisions on indecency or debauchery, among others, to target individuals on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. These criminal provisions not only constitute a violation of civil and political rights in and of themselves because they violate key provisions established by international human rights law; they also have significant human rights implications, representing a serious risk for the exercise of other fundamental rights, such as the right to association, the right to assembly, and the right to expression, the right to health, the principle of non discrimination, to mention a few. Furthermore, the mere existence of these laws is in many countries is an avenue for other human rights violations by state and non-state actors.

We acknowledge and welcome the civil society consensus on the above mentioned issues, and call on Commonwealth member states, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation to implement the recommendations of the Commonwealth People’s Forum.

You can access the Port of Spain Civil Society Statement to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 25 November at: http://www.commonwe althfoundation. com/governancede mocracy/CPF2009/ NewPublicationsC PF/

· Alternative Law Forum (ALF) - India
· Center for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG) - Ghana
· Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) - Trinidad & Tobago
· Gay and Lesbian coalition of Kenya (GALCK) - Kenya
· GrenCHAP – Grenada
· Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays – (J-FLAG) - Jamaica
· Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) - Malaysia
· Lesbians and Gays Bisexuals Botswana (LEGABIBO) - Botswana
· People Like Us (PLU) - Singapore
· Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) – Guyana
· The Independent Project (TIP) - Nigeria
· United and Strong - St Lucia
· United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) - Belize
· United Gays and Lesbians against AIDS Barbados (UGLAAB) – Barbados
· Global Rights
· International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Village.

SASOD presents

“The Village”

annual costume party
on Saturday, October 31

at the new Sky 7 Nite Club

8 Pere Street, Kitty, G/town

Tickets: $1000. Gate: $1500.

Tight Security in Effect

"The Village" gate opens at 10 pm

Proceeds in aid of SASOD’s work on

Homophobia, Human Rights & Health

Ticket Locations:

Oasis Cafe - 125 Carmichael St.

German's Restaurant - 8 New Market St.

D & J Snackette - 67 Leopold & Cross Sts.

Sea Breeze Hotel (Front Desk) - 8 Pere St.

Rainbow Fashion Boutique - Bent & Camp Sts.

Friday, July 10, 2009


The Coalition composed of organizations from 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries and its partner Global Rights, are denouncing the coup in Honduras, which we consider not only an affront to the national constitution and the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), but also an attack on democracy, respect, equality, rights and lives of the Honduran people.

As always in crisis scenarios, the most affected people are those under hightened vulnerable conditions, such as our lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, transgender and intersex Honduran brothers and sisters. Our colleague Vicky, a Honduran trans-woman, and other members of the LGBT sector, have been killed as a result of this brutal military intervention. As well, human rights activists and people who were born in a free country are in imminent danger, have now lost their freedom and their individual rights are suspended.

The LGBTTTI Coalition expresses its solidarity with the Honduran democratic sectors, who, rejecting military interventionism and political assassinations, arbitrary arrests, beatings and intimidation, demostrate on the streets to express themselves and
fight with their hands against hand-guns, machine-guns and tanks. We reject military interventionism, and request that those who cowardly and through force have taken power, to desist and restore the country to the democratically- elected president President José Manuel Zelaya; engage new communication chanels and a democratic and peaceful
solution to differences and problems they have. We urge the international community, international organizations, governments and civil society to remain mobilized and alert until the return of constitutional order in Honduras.

Coalition members:

1. AIREANA – Paraguay
2. C TTT- Honduras
3. COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD - Dominican Republic
6. GRENCHAP – Grenada
8. IGLHRC – Argentina
10. LIDERES EN ACCION – Colombia
11. SMU - Suriname
13. MULABI – Regional
15. RED AFRO LGBTI – Brasil
16. J FLAG – Jamaica
17. RED LACTRANS – Argentina
18. RED TRANS Nicaragua – Nicaragua
19. SASOD – Guyana
21. UNIBAM – Belize
22. VELVET UNDERGROUND – Trinidad and Tobago

Friday, June 26, 2009

Groups Put Pressure on Governments to Reform Harmful Drug Policies

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA: June 26, 2009— As the United Nations launches the 2009 World Drug Report this week, more than 40 international groups and experts worldwide today issued a call to action that presses governments to adopt a humane approach to drug policy.
The Call to Action, signed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, former president of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, and others, urges governments to enact policies that are based on scientific and medical research rather than politics. The Call has been signed by a total of 46 people from a range of professional backgrounds, including economists, drug policy/harm reduction experts, AIDS and human rights activists, and professors of medicine, representing 14 international organizations and 32 national organizations from 21 different countries.
“We need a more humane approach to drug use based on harm reduction principles and respect for human rights to eliminate the negative impact of the drug trade here in Guyana,” said Donna Snagg, President of Juncata Juvant Friendly Society. “Old methods are not working so we must turn to more evidence-based approaches,” she continued.
Rather than receiving treatment, millions of nonviolent drug users are languishing in prisons as a result of current drug policies. The drug trade continues to grow while families are torn apart by the global war on drugs. As the HIV and AIDS crisis spreads, policies that drive away drug users are creating public health disasters.
“Laws and policies that drive drug users underground, keep people away from life-saving HIV services and allows AIDS to spread,” said Joel Simpson, Co-Chair of Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). “These are very similar dynamics of exclusion which we see against sexual and gender minorities, and other marginalized groups,” he added.
Instead of continuing with these ineffective and harmful policies, today’s call to action urges governments to focus on reducing the harms of drug trade and use. It is time for governments to support needle exchange, substitution therapy, and decriminalization of possession for personal use. Drug control measures must respect human rights with penalties that are proportional and humane, and recognize that drug cultivation is primarily a development issue—not simply a security threat.
Juncata Juvant Friendly Society (JJFS) is a non-governmental, charitable, non-profit organization, providing services to persons who have been deported for resettlement into the Guyanese society.
Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is a local, non-governmental, advocacy organisation working on issues related to homophobia, human rights and health promotion in Guyana.
Press Contacts:
For JJFS, email
For SASOD, email

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Painting the Spectrum 2009 : SASOD's Fifth Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

Painting the Spectrum 5 : Schedule of Films

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Monday 1 June to Tuesday 30 June, 2009

Venue : Sidewalk Cafe, Middle Street, Georgetown Guyana

Programme starts at 7pm each night

Admission is FREE. All films are intended for mature audiences unless otherwise indicated

Special Event : Discussion on Spirituality and Sexuality - Wednesday 10 June, 6pm at Sidewalk Cafe.

Monday 1 June Brother Outsider : The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003)
/USA Documentary/

A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.
Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Five years in the making and the winner of numerous awards, BROTHER OUTSIDER presents a feature-length documentary portrait, focusing on Rustin’s activism for peace, racial equality, economic justice and human rights (85 mins)

Film donated by the Bayard Rustin Film Project

Tuesday 2 June Karmen Geï (2001)

Senegal/ Musical/ French and Wolof with English subtitles

Karmen Gei is the African adaptation of Bizet's popular opera Carmen. The conflicts between conventional morality and sexual freedom, between constraint and liberation, between complacency and passionate self-abandon, which are always present in iterations of the Carmen myth, will here acquire a very African political dimension, as well as a very modern one in terms of its sexual politics. (85 mins)

Donated by California Newsreel

Wednesday 3 June Le fate ignoranti/ His Secret Life (2001)

Italy:Turkey / Drama/ Italian/English subtitles

This beautiful film is another triumph from Director Ferzan Ozpetek in which he explores the sub rosa aspect of the lives of his characters. Antonia is happily married to a handsome Italian man (Massimo) who dies suddenly in an accident, leaving her bereft and lonely. Massimo's friends at work bring Antonia his belongings and in opening the office clutter she discovers a painting ("The Ignorant Fairy") which has an inscription on the back that it is from a lover of seven years. Antonia is convinced that her husband has had another woman and sets out to confront her, only to discover that the lover was a man (106 mins)

Monday 8 June
Dreams Deferred : The Sakia Gunn Story (2008)
USA/ Documentary

This documentary tells the little known story of Sakia Gunn, a 15 year old student who was fatally stabbed in a gay hate crime in Newark, New Jersey. Sakia was a homosexual woman of color who dressed in masculine attire but did not necessarily identify as either lesbian or female-to-male transgender. Sakia was stabbed while waiting at the bus stop, after rejecting violent advances from young men. What lessons does her murder have for the way in which we perceive youth violence and violence against girls who reject violent masculine advances? (71 mins)

Film donated by Third World Newsreel

Tuesday 9 June Dostana (2008)

India/ Comedy

Abhikshek Bachan and John Abraham play Kunal and Sameer, two straight guys who pretend to be a gay couple to secure an posh Miami apartment, but both of them fall for their gorgeous room-mate Neha, hilarity ensures as they strive to convince one and all they are gay! Secretly they are trying to win Neha's heart! (120 minutes)

More information..

Wednesday 10 June Toul Omry / All my Life (2008)

Egypt/ Drama/ Arabic with English subtitles

For Rami, all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, as long as he keeps to himself. But when his longtime lover leaves him to marry a woman and his best friends drift away, he comes face to face with the harsh realities of life as a gay man in Egypt. Against the backdrop of the choreographed crackdown on gay men and the notorious Queen Boat arrests of 2001, he plunges into a world of loveless friendships and spirals downwards to his ultimate downfall.(120 minutes)

Film Donated by Maraia Films

Monday 15 June
Milk (2008)

USA / Drama

Academy Award nominee Gus Van Sant directs Academy Award winner Sean Penn as gay-rights icon Harvey Milk. Mr. Milk (1930-1978) was an activist and politician, and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America; in 1977, he was voted to the city supervisors' board of San Francisco. (128 mins)

Read the Stabroek News Editorial

Tuesday 16 June
Bi the way (2008)

USA / Documentary

Bi the Way had its World Premiere at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX. The film is an enjoyable and entertaining documentary about the changing nature of sexuality and sexual identity in America today and how the next generation is redefining its sexual mores. The directors travel across the country talking mostly to young people about their new definitions of sexual identity. It is an eye-opening film, because it really begins to break down our normative dichotomous definitions of heterosexuality and homosexuality. (85 mins)

More information..

Wednesday 17 June
The Sum of Us (1994)

Australia / Comedy

Happy Father's Day!!!! A widowed, beer-drinking ferry driver who is looking for Ms Right and his rugby-playing, beer-drinking, gay plumber son both search for love and romance. Starring Russel Crowe, this film tells the story of a father son relationship and the difficulties they encounter as they try to intervene in each other's lives (100 mins)

Monday 22 June

Spectrum Celebration - An evening of poetry, prose, drama acknowledging the struggle and the achievements.

Featuring a reading from Beautiful Little Lies , a play by Judith Rudakoff

A Cuban cocktail with a twist.

Cuba, February 1998. The Pope’s historic visit raised the spirits of the Cuban people but a few weeks later, nothing has changed. Tourists are still drinking “Cuba Libre” (Free Cuba) cocktails, and bartenders are still calling them “Mentirita” (Little Lie) when no one is listening.

But this is Cuba. Someone is always listening.

Beautiful Little Lies follows the adventures of Juancy, a Cuban transvestite performer, Suzanne, a Canadian woman tourist whose mother has just died, Moffi, a little white Cuban dog with attitude, Bob, a closeted male homosexual tourist, and Maria, a Cuban mother with a passion for all life has to offer. And like Cuba, the world of Beautiful Little Lies is also populated by the ever present Orishas, the iconic and earthy spirit guides of the AfroCuban belief system...

Tuesday 23 June
Straightlaiced: How gender's got us all tied up (2008)

USA/ Documentary

With a fearless look at a highly charged subject, Straightlaced unearths how popular pressures around gender and sexuality are confining American teens. Their stories reflect a diversity of experiences, demonstrating how gender role expectations and homophobia are interwoven, and illustrating the different ways that these expectations connect with culture, race and class.
From girls confronting media messages about culture and body image to boys who are sexually active just to prove they aren’t gay, this fascinating array of students opens up with brave, intimate honesty about the toll that deeply held stereotypes and rigid gender policing have on all our lives.

Film donated by Groundspark

Wednesday 24 June
The World Unseen (2007)

South Africa / Drama

The film is set in Cape Town, South Africa during apartheid in 1952 and is based on the novel by Samin Sharif. The films stars Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth as two Indian South African women who fall in love in a racist, sexist, and homophobic society. This film has a background of beautiful music from that period. (100mins)

More information

Monday 29 June
Three films

Coolie Gyal (2004)

In this coming-out story, an honest and sincere letter is read from a daughter to her parents. A familial montage is incorporated with a heartfelt narrative filled with the expectations and anxieties of a young woman. Renata Mohamed is a Toronto-based Indo-Guyanese filmmaker born in the British Virgin Islands.( 7 mins)

Contributed by Director Renata Mohamed

Blu in you

Canada/Tobago / Essayist Documentary

Directed by Guyana born Michelle Mohabeer PhD

BLU IN YOU is an essayist rumination mediated through the lens of a female observer (Melanie Smith), who watches the staged conversations between a visual arts curator (Andrea Fatona) and a writer (Nalo Hopkinson). These conversations bridge historical and contemporary representations of the black female body, subjectivity and sexuality exploring various thematics from a cultural history of violence and spectacularization (embodied in the figure of "the Hottentot Venus") to discussions of art, representation and celebrated cultural icons (Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge and the figure of the muse Jeanne Duval), to a contemporary black queer female erotic body and sexuality. (50 mins)

Film donated by Dr Michelle Mohabeer

Flores en el Parque (2006)
Spain / Short / 10 minutes

Ana and Lola arrange to meet in the park. Lola will bring flowers. Ana will bring doubts.

Film donated by director Mariel Macia

previously announced as
A domicilio
(2008) (programme changed for this film )

Spain/ Drama
Rosa has thought of everything, she’ll treat Flor to a sushi dinner; they’ll drink white wine and listen to music. Both know what they are there for. However, things not always go as planned and some words, some time together can make them reconsider the prejudices they have about themselves and about one another (25 mins)

Film donated by director Mariel Macia

Tuesday 30 June
Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008)

USA / Comedy

Noah and Wade invite their friends to Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts) for their wedding. This feature-length version of the TV show gives the characters a chance to learn more about each other - and themselves - while living in close quarters. Relationships are tested and there are plenty of surprises. (101 mins)

More information..


With the support of

For arranging the delivery of films :-

Scheherazade Khan
Stacey Gomes
Dion Small
Greg Jagroo
Sherlina Nageer

Saturday, June 06, 2009

OAS approves second resolution on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”

At its 39th General Assembly convened in San Pedro Sula , Honduras , from June 1 – 3, 2009 , the Organisation of American States (OAS) approved its second resolution on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”.
This resolution is the result of the advocacy and coordination activities realized in the past three years by 24 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transgender, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTTTI) groups of 17 countries forming a Coalition of Latin America and the Caribbean, that meets every year before the General Assembly to coordinate its advocacy work within the OAS.
During the informal dialogue between the Secretary General of the OAS and the civil society on May 31, 2009 (photograph attached), in San Pedro Sula, José Miguel Insulza highlighted the need that the secretariat realizes a special report focusing in particular on hate crimes and the situation of human rights violations against individuals because of their sexual diversity.
The day after, in the context of the dialogue between the heads of delegations of member states and the civil society, Claudia Sosa Medina, Honduran transgender woman, read a statement (see below) as spokesperson of the coalition in which activists from Honduras, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Suriname, Guyana, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Belize, requested to the ministers of foreign affairs of the OAS member countries to intervene against acts of violence against LGBTTTI persons in the Americas.
The Coalition expressed its concern for the lack of reference to the notion of gender identity and expression in paragraph 5 of the Declaration of San Pedro Sula, which makes reference to violence caused by discrimination: “Gender identity of travestis, transgenders and transsexuals is a fundamental element of our individual freedom and self-construction”.
The representative of the government of the United States reminded the General Assembly of the commitment of President Barack Obama in supporting laws for the development of policies that recognize the rights of LGBT people, highlighted the signature of her country to the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, and expressed their opposition to the so-called sodomy laws.
Brazil sponsored the draft resolution “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, while Colombia underlined that the issue is particularly important for the government, and that the parliament has approved instruments to eliminate discriminatory acts against LGBT people. Finally Saint Kitts & Nevis expressed its opposition to any form of violence against any individual, regardless of the orientation of the human being.
On June 4, 2009 , during the fourth plenary session, the Annual Report of the Permanent Council (2008-2009), which contains the resolutions approved by the Permanent Council itself was presented. Among those, the resolution AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09) “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” was approved. Its text (also below) not only ratifies what established last year by the resolution AG/RES.2435 (XXX VII I-O/08) also entitled “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, but also makes reference to the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity presented at the UN General Assembly on December 18, 2008.
The new resolution, sponsored by Brazil, not only condemns acts of violence and human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, but also express its concern for violence against human rights defenders that work on these kinds of violations, calling on the states to ensure their protection and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American system to take action on the topic. Finally, the resolution reiterates its request to the Committee on Legal and Political Affairs to include the issue of “sexual orientation and gender identity” in its agenda during the next ordinary period of sessions.
As a Coalition, we celebrate the approval of this second resolution that we consider one of the tangible and historical results of our advocacy work started in 2006 by Global Rights, Mulabi - Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos and IGLHRC – LAC, by coordinating the creation of this coalition that initially focused its work on the advocacy for the inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in the draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.
We thank the OAS, UNDP, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and Global Rights for their support which made our participation at this year’s General Assembly possible.
The participants of the Coalition of LGBTTTI Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean within the OAS were:
AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay, Colectivo TTT San Pedro Sula- Claudia Sosa - Honduras, COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD, Julie Betances – Dominican Republic, CORPORACIÓN PROMOCIÓN DE LA MUJER, Soledad Varela - Ecuador, CORPORACION OPCION, Diana Navarro - Colombia, ENTRE-TRANSITOS - Camilo Andrés Rojas - Colombia, GRENCHAP - Kimany Parke - Grenada, HUMANA NACION TRANS-Hazel Gloria Davenport - Mexico, IGL HRC - Marcelo Ferreyra – Argentina, INSTITUTO RUNA-Belissa Andia – Peru, ASOCIACIÓN LIDERES EN ACCION -Germán Rincón - Colombia, SURINAME MEN UNITED - Kenneth Van Endem - Suriname, MULABI, ESPACIO LATINOAMERICANO DE SEXUALIDADES Y DERECHOS- Marina Bernal- México- Colombia, ORGANIZACIÓN DE TRANSEXUALES POR LA DIGNIDAD DE LA DIVERSIDAD Andrés Rivera – Chile, RED AFRO LGBTI - Edmilson Medeiros BRAZIL, J-FLAG - Maurice Tomilson – Jamaica, RED LACTRANS - Marcela Romero- Argentina, RED TRANS Nicaragua - Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua, SOCIETY AGAINST SEXUAL ORIENTATION DIDSCRIMINATION- Namela Baynes Henry - Guyana, UNIBAM - Devon Gabourel - Belize, VELVET UNDERGROUND Angela Francis - Trinidad and Tobago.
As a Coalition partner: Stefano Fabeni-Global Rights
Photograph Caption: OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza (third from left), SASOD Co-Chair, Namela Baynes-Henry (second from right) and other Coalition members at the informal dialogue with representatives of civil society on May 31, 2009 , in San Pedra Sula, Honduras.
AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09)
(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 4, 2009)
BEARING IN MIND resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), entitled “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity”;
That the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status; and
That the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man establishes that every human being has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person;
CONSIDERING that the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) proclaims that the historic mission of America is to offer to man a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his personality and the realization of his just aspirations;
REAFFIRMING the principles of universality, indivisibility, and interdependence of human rights;
TAKING NOTE of the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity presented to the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2008; and
NOTING WITH CONCERN acts of violence and related human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,
1. To condemn acts of violence and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
2. To urge states to ensure that acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals because of sexual orientation and gender identity are investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice.
3. To urge states to ensure adequate protection for human rights defenders who work on the issue of acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
4. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the other organs of the inter-American system to continue to pay sufficient attention to this issue.
5. To reiterate its request for the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) to include on its agenda, before the fortieth regular session of the General Assembly, the topic of “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
6. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its fortieth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

Mister Secretary General, Ministers, Members of the Official Delegations, Civil Society Representatives,
We, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex organizations, convened in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on May 29, 30 and 31, 2009, in accordance with the directives established by the General Assembly of the OAS in its resolutions AG/RES.2092( XXXV-O/05) ; CP/RES.759(1217/ 99); 840(1361/03) ; AG/RES.1707( XXX-O/00) and AG/RES.1915( XXXIII-O/ 03), which determine a regulatory framework to enhance and strengthen civil society participation in OAS activities and in the Summit of the Americas process, highlighting the importance of the resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) , express our concern for the omission of the concept of gender identity and expression from paragraph 5 of the draft declaration of San Pedro Sula, which makes reference to violence generated by discrimination. Gender identity and expression of travestis, transgenders and transsexuals are fundamental elements of the exercise of our cultural freedom and self-construction.
In the American hemisphere the atrocities committed have been documented over a decade. Several reports mostly drafted by non governmental organizations highlight the existence of countless extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, tortures and killings as a consequence of the so-called “social cleansing” campaigns or by extermination groups, such as in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador.
However, it should be noted that these identified forms of discriminatory acts and violence are the most evident and extreme kinds of rights violations, those which essentially affect the rights to life and personal integrity.
These are not only limited to physical attacks, police mistreatment, abuse by authorities and hate crimes. Within families and the community, practices of private violence, like forced marriages, submission to stereotypes and gender roles that limit the free development of the personality and sexuality, forced segregation and torture in “rehabilitation” clinics, that often end with suicide. Violence within the judicial system, manifested by the legal process for sex and name change, implies humiliating clinical exams, forced surgery and mutilation.
Being Afro-descendant, woman, indigenous, youth, migrant, elderly, or living with disability, among other reasons for marginalization, are factors that aggravate violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
We believe it is fundamental that discrimination is combated with appropriate and effective legal instruments that moreover promote a culture of non violence.
In this context we should draw attention to the situation in the eight English-speaking Caribbean countries that still keep in force the so-called “sodomy laws” which are used by the state, security forces and private actors to harass, intimidate and persecute us. These laws which have been consistently classified as human rights violations, create a climate of violence which has been identified by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during their recent visit to Jamaica.
The countless cases of killings, tortures, sexual violence, arbitrary detentions, public humiliations to which travesti, trangender, transsexual, lesbianas, gay, bisexuals and intersex people, as well as sex workers, are daily subjected in Central America and the Caribbean, and particularly in Honduras, perpetuate a context of hate and impunity with complete indifference by the state.
For these reasons, we demand that States, and particularly the government of Honduras, to develop transparent and serious investigations that should take place with full respect for the law, as well as to severely punish those actors that commit felonies covered by impunity and moral values that feed and justify hate and prejudices.
Therefore, we demand:
That the OAS includes gender identity in its program on the right to identity in order to give States the possibility to develop the necessary legal framework to eliminate social exclusion through the legal recognition of trans persons.
That member states of the English-speaking Caribbean repeal laws that criminalize sexual intercourse between consenting adults of the same sex and all other laws that limit the free development of personality or incite to social violence.
That Member states commit to defining national comprehensive policies aimed at implementing good practices in all social, educational and professional contexts and the creation of bodies that monitor the existing situation on human rights violations.
That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc. 4962/09 “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” presented by the Brazilian Delegation, whose initiative we fully endorse.
That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc. 4959/09 “Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance” and that Member States commit themselves to finalize the negotiation of the draft accepting the substantive progress achieved during the past years.
Given this situation of war against our desire, our bodies and our identities, we advocate for a culture of peace.
AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay, C TTT- Claudia Sosa - Honduras, COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD, Julie Betances – República Dominicana, COMUNICACIÓN MUJER, Soledad Varela - Ecuador, CORPORACION OPCION, Diana Navarro - Colombia, ENTRE-TRANSITOS - Camilo Andrés Rojas - Colombia, GREEN CHOP - Kimany Parke - Grenada, HUMANA NACION TRANS-Hazel Gloria Davenport - México, IGLHRC-LAC - Marcelo Ferreyra – Argentina, INSTITUTO RUNA-Belissa Andia – Perú, LIDERES EN ACCION-Germán Rincón - Colombia, MEN UNITED - Keneth Van Emdem - Suriname, MULABI, ESPACIO LATINOAMERICANO EN SEXUALIDADES Y DERECHOS, Marina Bernal, México-Colombia, ORGANIZACIÓN DE TRANSEXUALES POR LA DIGNIDAD Andrés Rivera –Chile, RED AFRO LGBTI - Edmilson Medeiros BRASIL, RED J-FLAG - Maurice Tomilson – Jamaica, RED LACTRANS - Marcela Romero- Argentina, RED TRANS Nicaragua - Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua, SASOD- Namela Baynes Henry - Guyana,UNIBAM - Devon Gabourel - Belize, VELVET UNDERGROUND Angela Francis - Trinidad and Tobago.
As a Coalition partner: Stefano Fabeni-Global Rights

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guyana: Reject Transphobia; Respect Gender Identity

In far too many places around the world, Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex people face violence, abuse, rape and hate crimes. The only motive: they are not confirming to social stereotypes about the way they should appear and behave in society as men or women.
Trans people is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, including cross-dressers, female or male impersonators, pre-operative, post-operative or non-operative transsexuals. Trans people may define themselves as female-to-male (FTM, assigned a female biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly male gender identity) or male-to-female (MTF, assigned a male biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly female gender identity); others consider themselves as falling outside binary concepts of gender or sex. Trans people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically: the term is not limited to those who have the resources for gender reassignment through surgery. Gender identity is different from sexual orientation. Trans people may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Be it out of ignorance, prejudice, fear or hate, Trans people overwhelmingly face daily discrimination, which results in social exclusion, poverty and poor health care, with little prospects for employment. Far from protecting Trans citizens, states and international bodies reinforce social transphobia violating their human rights. And to add insult to injustice, the World Health Organisation (WHO) still classifies them as “mentally disordered.”
On May 17, the world observes International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, commonly called IDAHO. On this day in 1990, WHO took homosexuality off the list of mental disorders and this is why May 17 was chosen as the day to observe IDAHO. This year’s observance also marks the launch of an International Appeal to the WHO to remove transsexualism from the list of mental disorders. The Appeal also calls on all states of the world to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and ensure that all Trans people benefit from appropriate health care, including gender reassignment if they so wish; be allowed to adapt their civil status to their preferred gender; live their social, family or professional lives without being exposed to transphobic discrimination or violence and that they are protected by police and justice systems from physical and non-physical violence. The Appeal has been signed by over 300 organisations, including SASOD, in more than 75 countries across the globe, three Nobel Laureates: Elfriede Jelinek, who won the 2004 Prize in Literature, and Francoise Barre-Finoussi and Luc Montagnier, who were jointly awarded one half of the 2008 Prize in Physiology and Medicine, for their discovery of “human immunodeficiency virus” known as HIV, and other personalities like Senegalese Doudou Diene, former special rapportuer on racism to the UN. Major international institutions have also expressed their support, including the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association (ILGLaw) and the Global Justice Ministry of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). The Appeal is open for the general public to sign on at the website
In Guyana, transphobic violence and discrimination came in for much attention a few months ago when a group of people verbally and physically attacked some ‘cross-dressers’ in the vicinity of Stabroek Market. The escalated confrontation lead to the ‘cross-dressers’ being detained and charged for an archaic offence related to ‘cross-dressing’ under section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02. Days later, police unleashed a series of crackdowns in downtown Georgetown against ‘cross-dressers,’ detaining them without reading them their rights, informing them of their charges or allowing them to make phone calls or contact a lawyer. While in detention, they were mocked and ridiculed for their sexual orientation. Further to the insults by the police, the acting Chief Magistrate also unloaded her own disparaging remarks in making her decision motivated by her own religious views. These human rights violations clearly illustrate that the state is complicit and sanctions transphobic discrimination and violence. SASOD has repeatedly appealed to the Guyana government even at the highest levels to repeal our colonial-inherited discriminatory laws, which our former colonizers have since rid themselves of decades ago, and enact laws and policies to protect sexual and gender minorities from violence and discrimination.
In the face of government inaction, SASOD has embarked on several initiatives to raise awareness and educate Guyanese on transphobia, violence and discrimination. As part of a collective under a joint UN inter-agency HIV project on sexual and gender minorities, SASOD will continue to address human rights abuses suffered by Trans people in Guyana by sensitizing and training the uniformed forces, health-care workers and other social-services providers to work with these marginalized groups.
Check Stabroek News and Kaieteur News for related articles