Friday, July 06, 2012

CARICOM heads of government urged to strengthen sexual rights

CARICOM heads of government urged to strengthen sexual rights
Posted By Stabroek staff On July 5, 2012 @ 5:10 am In Local | No Comments
Regional civil society organizations have called on the Caribbean Community heads of government at their July 4-6 summit in St Lucia to implement an Organization of  American States (OAS) General Assembly resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) that every state supported last month.
They were also urged to fully join the Inter-American human rights system, according to a press release from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) yesterday.
CAFRA (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action), CariFLAGS (Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities) and the CVC  were joined by NGOs, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana, and United and Strong in St. Lucia, where the meeting is being held.
The annual OAS SOGI resolution has been supported by every Caribbean state for the past five years, the release stated.
Among several other actions, this year’s text calls on member states to “consider, within the parameters of the legal institutions of their domestic systems, adopting public policies against discrimination by reason of sexual orientation and gender identity” and to “consider signing, ratifying, or acceding to, as the case may be, the inter-American human rights instruments”. “Other citizens in the Americas have all these human  rights protections guaranteed  by  Inter-American regional instruments and mechanisms that millions of CARICOM citizens simply do not enjoy,” SASOD’s Joel Simpson noted.
The release said further that SASOD helped to pressure the Guyana government through the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process to undertake a national consultation on whether the state should continue to criminalize cross-dressing, and same-sex intimacy between consulting adult men in private.
“One has to wonder how committed our leaders are when the region is so underdeveloped in terms of human rights. Human rights protections are part of citizen security. We live in countries in the hemisphere where the state’s local protective mechanisms are the weakest and indicators of inequality, like access to justice and HIV rates, are the worst. And our citizens don’t enjoy recourse to regional bodies when our local protections fail,” Simpson stated.
Meanwhile, the advocates also protested CARICOM’s marginalization of civil society participation in regional governance and demanded a greater voice in contributing to the future of the Caribbean.
“CARICOM doesn’t yet have the simplest  structures for routine civil society participation, unlike most other regional  institutions,”  said  Trinidad-based  Colin  Robinson,  who  is  leading  the  private-public partnership to develop a region-wide human rights advocacy network CariFLAGS.
CariFLAGS leaders include NGOs in Antigua, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The advocates noted, however, that PANCAP (the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS), is one  of  the  few  regional  mechanisms  that  has  genuinely  sought  to  include  civil  society  in  its governance.
CARICOM’s Head for  Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS, St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas just last week “endorsed a new complementarity in mission between the new Caribbean Public Health Agency and PANCAP, with the latter  sharpening its focus on human rights, vulnerability and social justice, the release added.
“If we’re serious about PANCAP’s commitment to human rights, what we are asking are these two concrete steps by Heads of Government to express that,” said St. Flavia Cherry of the St. Lucia-based CAFRA, which is also campaigning to strengthen protection of sexual and reproductive rights regionally.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012


The Coalition of LGBTTTI Latin American and Caribbean organizations, formed by groups belonging to more than 23 countries expresses in this communiqué its assessment of the activities of the 42nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States, which took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia on June 3rd-5th, 2012.
The  Caribbean delegation L-R Standing Caleb Orozco-Belize,Kareem Griffith -Trinidad & Tobago,Maurice Tomlinson-Jamaica &Teneke Sumpter-Suriname; Seated Namela Baynes Rowe-Guyana and Razia Torriani Bolivian Trans Activist

The LGBTTI Coalition

This Assembly adopted the fifth resolution AG/RES. 2721 (XLII-O/12) “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Such resolution, which is the result of the long term advocacy of the group, includes all the issues contained in the previous resolutions, calling on member states to introduce measures against discrimination and human rights violations and to implement public policies. Furthermore it requests the IACHR to prepare a study on legislation and provisions in force in the OAS member states restricting the human rights of individuals by reason of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to prepare, based on that study, guidelines aimed at promoting the decriminalization of homosexuality”.
About the Coalition’s activities
Beyond the resolution that has been formally adopted, the Coalition celebrates the consolidation of its space as civil society component after five years of advocacy work within the OAS and in the region, before, during and after the General Assemblies.
In the days preceding the 42nd General Assembly, the Coalition organized a parallel event in preparation for the advocacy and participation within the OAS. The main discussion topics were: (a) implementation of the resolution “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”; (b) Interaction with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (with specific focus on thematic hearings); (c) Interaction with the Commission on Juridical and Political Affairs; (d) Advocacy in the negotiation process of the draft Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance; (e) Advocacy with member states.

During the two days, invited participants included Jorge Sanin, director of the Department of International Relations of the OAS, who highlighted the importance of the commitment of the LGBTTTI civil society in all processes of the OAS and the increasing visibility of the issue within the OAS, particularly with reference to the Hemispheric Forum.

The Coalition met MP Gladys Prieto Moreyra, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of the Bolivian Parliament, and MP Saul Limbert Garabito, member of the same Human Rights Commission. They both welcomed the Coalition, expressed their commitment on the rights of LGBTTTI people and, in particular, their support to the La won Gender Identity, that has been recently endorsed by the Vice-Minister of Justice and will be sent for discussion to the Bolivian parliament in the next days.

The Coalition also had a meeting with Mr. Darío Paya, ambassador of the Republic of Chile at the OAS, who spoke about the need that society move forward in the inclusion and respect for diversity, and congratulated the Coalition for his presence at the OAS.
During the informal dialogue with the Secretary General of the OAS and the civil society in San Salvador, six delegates of the LGBTTTI coalition addressed to Secretary General José Miguel Insulza their concerns regarding the undue influence of religion on states and the weakening of the principle of secularity; violence and discrimination that LBTTTI women suffer within their own families and communities; hate crimes and discrimination, discriminatory archaic buggery and cross dressing laws, particularly in the English-speaking Caribbean; the need of recognition of gender identity for travesti, transgender, transsexual and intersex people; the need of completing the negotiation process of the Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance; and the importance to consider the proposal for a Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights advanced by civil society.
Mr. Insulza confirmed the OAS’s commitment to fight for recognition of the rights of LGBTTTI individuals and the need to move forward in the negotiation of the Inter American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. He also committed to facilitate a meeting between member states, civil society and the Inter-American Commission on the issue.
The dialogue between Civil Society and the Heads of Delegation of the OAS Member States took place on June 3rd. Raiza Torriani, Bolivian trans activist, was the spokesperson for the LGBTTTI Coalition. The full text of the speech is published below. In her intervention, Raiza made reference, with particular emphasis, on the situation of LGBTTTI people in the English-speaking Caribbean, mentioning each member of the Coalition in attendance from that region, who stood up calling the attention of the Heads of Delegation and the audience. As result of this action, the state representatives of St. Kitts & Nevis, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago expressed their concerns on the issues and committed to raise the question to their respective governments. The representatives of Brazil and Argentina also expressed their commitment of their countries on the rights of LGBTTTI people.
We welcome the increasing interest for the work of the coalition that represents an acknowledgment of the work carried out in these years.
We thank COC Netherlands, UNAIDS, UNDP, MamaCash and the Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights for their support to make our participation to this General Assembly possible.

The participants of the Coalition of LGBTTTI Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean within the OAS were:

  1. AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay,
  2. ASOCIACIÓN LIDERES EN ACCION -Germán Rincón Perfetti - Colombia,
  4. COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD, Claudia Saleta – Dominican Republic,
  5. COLECTIVO UNIDAD COLOR ROSA – Claudia Spellmant – Honduras,
  6. TALLER COMUNICACIÓN MUJER, Tatiana Cordero - Ecuador,
  7. AIDS FREE WORLD - Maurice Tomlinson – Jamaica,
  8. MULABI-COSTA RICA – Natasha Jiménez – Costa Rica,
  10. ORGANIZACIÓN TRANS REINAS DE LA NOCHE – Johana Ramírez – Guatemala,
  11. GRUPO IDENTIDADE RED AFRO LGBTI – Marcos Cesar Gomez – Brazil,
  13. RED NICARAGUENSE DE ACTIVISTAS TRANS – Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua,
  15. UNIBAM – Caleb Orozco – Belize,
  16. WOMEN’S WAY – Tieneke Sumter – Suriname
  17. TRANSREDBOLIVIA TREBOL - Raiza Torriani - Bolivia

As partners of the Coalition: Stefano Fabeni and Marcelo Ernesto Ferreyra – Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights

Cochabamba, June 5th, 2012


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 Cochabamba, Bolivia, from May 30th to June 1st, 2012, 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); AG/RES.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, express our concern that food security is limited to the right to food, while we consider that it is also related to the rights to work, health, housing, education, equality and non-discrimination, a dignified life, respect for nature and the collective rights of indigenous peoples.

We show our concern for the situation of exclusion and vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, travesti and intersex people, as well as afro-descendant people, migrants, refugees, women, youth, differently abled people, the elderly, indigenous peoples, ethnic groups, people living with HIV, religious minorities, and those who live in situations of armed conflict or natural disasters. In these circumstances, they are exposed to the most severe discrimination, which prevents them from accessing to a good quality of life.

As intersex and trans persons, whose identity is not recognized, we are not primary subjects in the development of public policies; we are expelled from schools and from our homes, while the society and governments deny the recognition of our condition of human beings, forcing us since childhood to live on the streets, exposed to sexual exploitation. This affects the development of our personality and the exercise of our basic rights.

Several countries do not secure our rights and do not protect our lives; in others we are criminalized by the law, and private and public healthcare services consider our conditions as pathologies.

Indifference, omission and complicity by many states in cases of discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community make those more severe and limit the enjoyment of the basic needs of our communities. This situation is even more serious in the case of the legislation of 11 Anglophone Caribbean countries. We are here with our colleagues from Belize, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, countries that criminalize same-sex conducts between consenting adults. In fact, the lack of political will of the Anglophone Caribbean member states denies human rights and, as a consequence, represents a limit for job opportunities and for decision-making on public policies related to HIV, as well as increase the number of homeless among youth.

As lesbian women we demand that the states recognize the different types of families, as well as their inclusion in national census; the contribution we offer to food security for our families and our children must be recognized. The lack of recognition of the way we contribute as LBTI women to the wellbeing of our families and to state economy though our productive and reproductive work does not make it visible our contribution to life.

Similarly, we recall the attention on the impact that domestic violence has on food security, as it is impossible in circumstances whereby the right to food for our children is denied and when our economic autonomy is limited or denied.

Finally, we urge member states to respect the principle of secularism, as the lack of separation between church and state increase oppression, discrimination, social exclusion.

Therefore we demand:

To the Member States:

- To adopt laws and public policies in accordance with the commitments taken in virtue of the resolutions "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" approved in the previous General Assemblies.

- To adopt laws that recognize the right to identity of trans persons taking as an example the good practice represented by the law recently approved by Argentina.

- To repeal laws that criminalizes same sex intimacy.

- To realize all efforts required in the shortest period of time to finalize the adoption of the Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Form of Discrimination and Intolerance.

- To consider the proposal for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights.

- To sign, ratify and implement all Inter-American instruments for the protection of human rights.

- To effectively strengthen their commitment with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with the Support of the Secretary General of the OAS, and abstain from initiatives that might weaken the Inter-American system of protection of human rights.

To the General Assembly:

- To approve the draft resolution “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” presented by the Brazilian delegation, whose initiative we fully endorse.

We are not born vulnerable; lack of recognition makes us vulnerable.

AG/RES. 2721 (XLII-O/12)


(Adopted at the second plenary session, held on June 4, 2012)


TAKING INTO ACCOUNT resolutions AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09), AG/RES. 2600 (XL-O/10), and AG/RES. 2653 (XLI-O/11), “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 instrument, 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 security of his person without distinction as to race, sex, language, creed, or any other factor;

CONSIDERING that the Charter of the Organization of American States proclaims that the historic mission of the Americas 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;


Of the creation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Unit for the Rights of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexual, Transsexual, and Intersex Persons (LGBTI), and of its work plan, which includes the preparation of a hemispheric report on this issue;

Of the Second Report of the IACHR on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, according to which organizations that promote and defend the human rights of LGBTI persons play a fundamental role in the region in terms of public oversight to ensure compliance with the states’ obligations vis-à-vis the rights to privacy, equality, and nondiscrimination, and are faced with obstacles, among them, murder, threats, criminalization of their activities, the failure to take a focused approach to the investigation of crimes committed by both state and non-state actors against them, and discourse calculated to discredit the defenders of the rights of LGBTI persons; and

Of the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, presented to the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2008; and

NOTING WITH CONCERN the acts of violence and related human rights violations as well as discrimination practiced against persons because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,


  1. To condemn discrimination against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity; and to urge the states within the parameters of the legal institutions of their domestic systems to eliminate, where they exist, barriers faced by lesbians, gays, and bisexual, transsexual, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in access to political participation and in other areas of public life.

  1. To encourage member states to consider, within the parameters of the legal institutions of their domestic systems, adopting public policies against discrimination by reason of sexual orientation and gender identity.

  1. To condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity; and to urge states to strengthen their national institutions with a view to preventing and investigating these acts and violations and ensuring due judicial protection for victims on an equal footing and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

  1. To urge states to ensure adequate protection for human rights defenders who work on the issue of acts of violence, discrimination, and human rights violations committed against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

  1. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to pay particular attention to its work plan titled “Rights of LGBTI People” and, in keeping with its established practice, to prepare a hemispheric study on the subject; and to urge member states to support the efforts of the Commission in this area.

  1. To request the IACHR to prepare a study on legislation and provisions in force in the OAS member states restricting the human rights of individuals by reason of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to prepare, based on that study, guidelines aimed at promoting the decriminalization of homosexuality.

  1. To urge the member states that has not yet done so to consider signing, ratifying, or acceding to, as the case may be, the inter-American human rights instruments.

  1. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly on the implementation of this resolution. Execution of the activities envisaged in this resolution will be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.