Press Release: Fundamentalism has no place in our Caribbean societies
Red Thread, Help and Shelter, Artistes In Direct Support and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination join the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and other civil society groups in the region is condemning increasing homophobic and transphobic violence in the Caribbean. CVC and its partners are deeply concerned by a stream of reports coming from Caribbean civil society organizations about incidents of violence towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. The groups are disturbed by the anti-gay march held by evangelical churches last week in Haiti, and the alleged violence towards LGBT people afterwards. We are truly saddened by reports from Jamaica last week that a gender non-conforming 17-year-old was mob attacked and stabbed to death in Montego Bay. CVC extends it condolences to the families and friends of those affected by this hate-fueled violence.
These tragic events are not isolated acts but instead a reflection of systematic discrimination and violence experienced by Caribbean LGBT people, particularly the most visible and vulnerable. Organizations such as United and Strong in St Lucia, United Belize Advocacy Movement in Belize, and Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) in Jamaica, Trans Always Friends (TRANSSA) and the Community of Trans-Transvestite Dominican Sex Workers (CONTRAVETD) in the Dominican Republic often have to deal with similar horrific threats, harassment and violence towards their communities because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. This violence is a consequence of fundamentalist and hateful discourses towards LGBT communities and is likely to be replicated if urgent action is not taken.
We call on our allies involved in Caribbean struggles for social justice – progressive faith leaders, trade unions, feminist organizations, and civil liberties groups – to join us in denouncing and challenging fundamentalist views which fuel violence towards LGBT people in our region. Hate speech and extremism have no place in our Caribbean democracies, where resistance against discrimination, unity, and strength in diversity are hallmarks of our shared history. These hateful views do not reflect the teachings of the region’s religions that variously emphasize respect for diversity, non-violence, justice and unconditional love as their cornerstone values.
We demand of our Caribbean Governments greater protection for all LGBT people, legal frameworks that guarantee human rights protection, and investment in mechanisms that effectively respond to violence. And we call on Caribbean States to ensure that in no circumstance is the right to freedom of expression allowed to endanger the right to life, liberty and security of person, and to the right to privacy.
Without challenging fundamentalist discourses which undermine dignity and rights, and continuing to foster a culture of human rights, Caribbean States cannot expect to develop, and we as Caribbean citizens cannot expect a better future for our families or children. We stand in solidarity with all Caribbean civil society organizations and movements working towards more just and equal societies, where everyone’s rights and dignity are respected.
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