Friday, December 25, 2015

Single applicants, homosexuals are eligible to adopt, be foster parents, guardians – CPA Director Anne Green

Ann Greene presenting at the Workshop
The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) with the support of the USASID Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) - Guyana Project held a Children’s Rights Workshop last Friday commemorating International Human Rights Day 2015 which was held under the theme, “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” This workshop, which was attended by representatives of nearly thirty Civil Society Organisations focused on the rights and issues affecting orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Guyana.
During her presentation on childcare services offered by the state at a Children’s Rights Workshop hosted by SASOD with support from USAID’s Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) Project last Friday, Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) Ann Green announced that there are no laws barring homosexuals from adopting or being foster parents, the agency does not discriminate and under her direction she encourages anyone to apply for the care and protection of vulnerable and neglected children. “There is nothing in the law barring gay people from adopting or applying to be foster parents, the Childcare and Protection Agency does not discriminate and under my direction the agency is more than willing to try it.”
Traditionally it has been heterosexual couples that are selected to be foster parents or adopt children but the agency has recently began exploring other options in its quest to find more comfortable and secured homes for OVC. She encourages more citizens to apply to be foster parents and/or adopt. Green disclosed that the CPA recently tried a single male; he was screened, selected and approved to be a parent, this however was challenged by the child’s biological parents who argued against the adoption – the agency won the case on the grounds that the single man has met the state’s requirements and the selection was in the best interest of the child’s welfare.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

UNICEF Gears at Partnering with Guyana Government and People for AIDS-Free Generation

Marianne Flach (Photo credit: Theresa Campbell, APC)
The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) with the support of the USASID Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) - Guyana Project held a Children’s Rights Workshop last Friday commemorating International Human Rights Day 2015 which was held under the theme, “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” This workshop, which was attended by representatives of nearly thirty Civil Society Organisations focused on the rights and issues affecting orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Guyana.
Noting that stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV has decreased in Guyana, UNICEF’s Resident  Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Marianne Flach noted that her organisation will continuously support the Government and People of Guyana in their efforts to combat the virus that has threatened and taken the lives of millions globally. “Love, respect and dignity are essential to achieving an AIDS free generation, unfortunately for many people living with HIV, stigma and discrimination persist despite global efforts to reduce the burden for those affected by this disease. In many instances, children are usually the ones who are disproportionately affected.”
Addressing a gathering of thirty Civil Society Organisations at a Children’s Rights Workshop hosted by SASOD in collaboration with the USAID’s Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) Project at the APC’s Georgetown office Friday last, Flach focused her speech on the vulnerability of women and children. Sensitive, child-friendly services she said are needed to protect treat and respond to children affected by HIV, this she opined is absolutely critical.
Twenty-five children globally still acquire HIV every hour despite the majority of pregnant women in low and middle income countries living with the virus are receiving treatment to remain healthy and to avoid transmitting HIV to their babies – this prevents 1.3 million new infections among children since the millennium year. UNICEF, she said is actively supporting the Ministry of Public Health to reduce and prevent mother-to-child transmission. Current and future projects she revealed are the integration of HIV education and care into maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health services; support of male partner involvement, and case tracking management systems, and ensuring that all babies, children, and their mothers are able to access healthcare and information, particularly  life-saving HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Guyana is in the validation process towards eliminating mother-to-child transmission of the HIV. Flach also noted that the Caribbean region may be the first region to eliminate this form of transmission and this is a promising development and exciting achievement to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SASOD held Children’s Rights Workshop to Mark Human Rights Day

Participants at Workshop  (Photo credit: Theresa Campbell (APC)


The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) with the support of the USASID Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) - Guyana Project held a Children’s Rights Workshop last Friday commemorating International Human Rights Day 2015 which was held under the theme, “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” This workshop, which was attended by representatives of nearly thirty Civil Society Organisations focused on the rights and issues affecting orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Guyana.


Chief-of-Party of the APC Project, Folami Harris, expressed that “we have an obligation, a moral sense to protect and respect the rights of our children but there are not a lot of caregivers and programmes in Guyana to assist vulnerable children in communities,” in her opening remarks. “How we respond to children is very important but unfortunately we do not have enough people dealing with children specifically,” she related to the gathering of nurses, social workers, caregivers, counsellors and peer educators in attendance. “We as caregivers don’t always do it, teachers don’t always to the extent it needs to be done and this needs to change. We are in a very unique position. Very few of us have the capacity to offer formal dispute resolution and support.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

SASOD, APC Push Dialogue, Law Reform, on Intimate Partner Violence in LGBT Relationships

Panel and Moderator  (Photo credit: Nekete Forde, GYNC)
On Monday, November 30, 2015, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the USAID – Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) Guyana Project hosted the third in its series of monthly Lunch Talks at the APC office in Oleander Avenue, Bel Air Park, Georgetown. The session was held as part of SASOD’s observances of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which kicked off on November 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – and runs until December 10 – Human Rights Day. SASOD is holding daily activities, both on its social media sites and in-person events.


The “Lunch Talk” had a special focus on “Barriers Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People Face in Accessing Services for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)”. The event featured a panel which consisted of Attorney-at-Law Ayana McCalman, who is Assistant Secretary on the Board of Directors of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), Vanda Radzik, renowned human rights activist and Commissioner on the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC), and Joel Simpson, SASOD’s Managing Director. The discussion was moderated by SASOD’s Social Change Coordinator, Chelauna Providence.

Monday, December 21, 2015

SASOD Makes Submission to the National Dialogue on HIV and the Law

Marking World AIDS Day 2015, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) has made a robust submission to the National Dialogue on HIV and the Law, slated to begin on December 9 and culminate on December 10, Human Rights Day. SASOD’s submission focuses on the first-listed thematic area of the call for submissions: “sexual orientation and gender identity.” In the submission, SASOD reiterates calls for the repeal of archaic laws which criminalize same-sex intimacy and cross-dressing – a position which the organization has been advocating at local, national and international levels for over 12 years. These and other issues related to human rights and key populations affected by HIV will form part of the two-day national conference being spearheaded by a 10-member advisory committee of government ministries and civil society organisations in equal ratio, with technical and financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Actioning Women’s Leadership



- SASOD attends Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference 2015

By Alana Da Silva - Secretary, SASOD’s Board of Directors



Photo courtesy: Melanie Grant
Over 50 lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) women, feminists and heterosexual allies converged as a community at the 3rd Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference, from October 5 to 11, 2015. The conference was held at the Kapok Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.



As LBT women and feminist allies of the Caribbean and Latin America, part of the joy (and challenge) of participating in the conference was in sharing our experiences and incredible stories of love, friendship, and ways to build a supportive and sustainable community that challenges and increases the leadership capabilities of women - regardless of our sexual orientations and gender identities. At the same time, we learned how to navigate the social, political, and religious structures that designed to control women’s sexualities, which is inherently diverse but often criticised and criminalised due to fear, ignorance, and oppression.



The discussions were thought-provoking and sometimes deeply emotional, as one participant recalled her struggle with suicide, anxiety and depression. Others have overcome similar challenges with lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia, while manoeuvring through self-care and acceptance. Our shared bond is that we continue to strengthen our resolve by advocating for the most vulnerable in our communities. This is achieved through various actions across the region, including LGBT-focused research; housing and security for victims of domestic and gender-based violence; training and information sharing; literacy programmes for children, or providing a safe space to share each other’s rich artistry and creativity, as in the case of Afifa Aza, Jamaican Artist, as well as Founder and Creative Director at SO((U))L.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Civil Society Now Ready for Advocacy with New Government

Last Friday, October 30, 2015, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) officially closed the Civil Society Public Policy Advocacy Training Programme, following two three-day workshops at the Regency Suites Hotel, Georgetown, over the past two months.
In providing an overview of the project, Caribbean Public Policy research and Training Consultant, Deborah Nurse shared that, “the project, which started eight months ago, commenced with a research phase consisting of two components.  The first component included a data gathering element designed to be an input into the training phase; it served to ascertain the policy objectives, existing capacities, needs, challenges and training/skill needs of GEF member and partner organizations.  The second component was a mapping study, which was designed to document governmental policy and decision-making processes in Guyana.  The information gleaned from the baseline and mapping studies was used to design the Civil Society Public Policy Advocacy Training Programme.”The project was essentially designed to contribute towards the equitable treatment of all peoples in Guyana by supporting efforts to strengthen the participation of vulnerable persons and their representative organisations through SASOD and the GEF in decision-making processes of the state.
The entire training programme provided an intensive and focused introduction to the principles and practices of effective public policy advocacy. It focused on how to conduct evidence-based advocacy and how to strategically communicate with decision makers.  There was a practical component to the training, which allowed participants to conduct ‘strategic inquiry’ – or intelligence gathering - with politicians and other key decision makers on issues that they were advocating for.  Nurse highlighted that, “there are some very important and exciting policy issues that participants focused on such as: Key human rights and equality issues that should be included in the government’s upcoming Gender  Policy; Increasing access to physical, sexual and mental health services in hinterland communities; Amending the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination; and Repealing the laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy and cross-dressing laws, in Guyana.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

SASOD Mourns Loss of Outstanding Activist, Zenita Temall Nicholson

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is shocked and saddened by the news of the death of one our leading activists and former board member, Zenita Temall Nicholson. Zenita joined SASOD in May 2011 as a member and Coordinator of the “Human Rights Education for the Protection of Sexual and Gender Minorities in Guyana” Project.
Zenita was passionate about human rights and a fearless defender of the rights of vulnerable people. She applied this drive and commitment to her work, delivering exceptional results at SASOD to raise awareness and strengthen advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Due to her dedication and hard work, she became Secretary on the SASOD Board of Trustees in September 2012 – a volunteer position which she held for two years, until September 2014.
Zenita remained a member of SASOD and represented the organisation at the 45th Regular Session of the Organisation of American States General Assembly as recently as June of this year in Washington, D.C. Zenita was recognized for her outstanding leadership and courage by the United States Embassy in Georgetown in March 2014 when Charge d’ Affaires Bryan Hunt presented her with their first International Woman of Courage Award. The citation reads: “In recognition of your exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment and raising public awareness to protect the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

UN Committee Urges Guyana to Repeal Discriminatory Laws





On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, the USAID – Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) Guyana Project and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) hosted the second in its series of "Lunch Talks" at the APC office in Oleander Avenue, Bel Air Park, Georgetown. This “Lunch Talk” sought to examine the Concluding Observations from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on Guyana’s recent review on September 28 - 29, 2015.
The Concluding Observations after Guyana’s recent review on September 28 and 29 were released on October 9, 2015.  The Concluding Observations contain the collective assessment of the state's record and recommendations for enhanced implementation of the rights under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
At the “Lunch Talk”, a team from SASOD including of Managing Director, Joel Simpson; Advocacy and Communications Officer, Schemel Patrick and SASOD Volunteers, Monica Brinn and Chase Gorishek, shared a summary of the SASOD’s Stakeholder Report accentuating pertinent topics that were highlighted by the Committee in its Comcluding Observations to the Government of Guyana. The discussion around the table interrogated the Concluding Observations and outlined a clear roadmap of how the Government of Guyana can meet its treaty obligations to fulfil the economic, social and cultural rights of all Guyanese.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SASOD Charges Government to Repeal Discriminatory Laws through UN Review Process

SASOD’s Managing Director, Joel Simspon
On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) held a media briefing at the Guyana Marriott Hotel Georgetown to discuss Guyana’s recent review under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that was held in Geneva on September 28 – 29, 2015 during the 56th Session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and to share a synopsis of the Stakeholders Report on the Protection of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons in Guyana which SASOD submitted to CESCR on August 30, 2015,ahead of the country review.

Speaking at the media briefing were SASOD’s Managing Director, Joel Simspon, and Advocacy and Communication’s Officer, Schemel Patrick, and the UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Martin Odiit.

In his opening remarks, Simpson provided a brief background on how the CESCR works. He noted that the Guyana signed ICESCR in 1968 and ratified it in 1977. Simpson lamented that Guyana had failed to meet its treaty obligation to report to CESCR every 5 years and charged the APNU+AFC Government to improve the abysmal treaty-body reporting record of the previous administration.

Monday, October 05, 2015

GEF, SASOD Host Sunday Fun Day to Mark International Day of Peace

On Sunday, September 20, the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) and partners hosted “Sunday Fun Day: Peace Day Novelty Sports and Health Fair” at the Eve Leary Sports Ground, on the eve of the International Day of Peace, celebrated globally on September 21.
The GEF has recognized the importance of partnering with other key stakeholders as a means of collectively promoting the rights of marginalized groups in Guyana. “Sunday Fun Day: Peace Day Novelty Sports and Health Fair” capitalized on a HIV prevention activity under SASOD’s sexual health  project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) project. Deliberately held on September 20, 2015, the eve of the International Day for Peace (IDP) - the United Nations observance dedicated to strengthening the ideas of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples - the event was held to promote peace, human rights, general health and well-being for all Guyanese.. This year’s IDP theme is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which fits squarely with the GEF's mandate of human rights and equality for all Guyanese. The Sunday Fun Day also aimed to promote positive health and well-being, foster youth participation and civic engagement and uphold human rights and equality for all Guyanese.
(l - r) Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Khadija Musa; Minister within the Ministry of Education, Department of Youth, Culture and Sport, Nicolette Henry and USAID - Advancing Partners and Communities

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Civil Society Charged to Hold APNU-AFC Government Accountable to Manifesto Promises



The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) officially opened its three-day Civil Society Public Policy Training for the Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project, funded by the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.  The project was designed to contribute towards the equitable treatment of all peoples in Guyana by supporting efforts to strengthen the participation of vulnerable persons and their representative organisations in decision-making processes of the state. The three-day training, held at the Regency Suites/Hotel, Hadfield Street, Georgetown, marks the second phase of the three phase project.
The official opening was chaired by the Secretary of SASOD’s Board, Alana Da Silva, and was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of United Nations agencies, other special invitees, in addition to the civil society participants.
John Quelch, Project Coordinator, presented an overview of the project by highlighting the objectives and the intended outcomes of the training. Quelch stated that, “the training programme we are opening today marks a substantial part of the training phase,  and is intended to bring together a wide cross-section of civil society stakeholders from the length and breadth of Guyana and to provide them with a thorough and focused introduction to and appreciation of the principles and practices of effective public-policy advocacy and to prepare them for successful involvement in Guyanese public-policy consultations and decision-making which affect their lives and the communities they represent.” 

BRIEF REMARKS by Raphael Trotman, Hon. Minister of Governance



BRIEF REMARKS 
by Raphael Trotman, Hon. Minister of Governance
Official Opening of the Civil Society Policy Policy Advocacy Training



Greetings, and congratulations to SASOD and GEF for recognising the need for training to enhance the engagement among stakeholders on matters that affect everyone.  The Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project funded by the EU recognises the importance of Civil Society organisations specifically targeting those with the most need, those who may be forgotten in our haste to achieve development targets and increase the economic wealth of our country and those existing on the fringe of society, unsure of their way in. 

An active, vibrant, well informed populace is critical to ensuring that its interests are addressed by its leaders and civil society’s advocacy is the vehicle through which this goal can be achieved.  Advocacy should not be seen however as an excuse for the trampling of the rights of others in an effort to achieve group goals but rather must be exercised with the intention of building relationships and strengthening democracy.  Civil society organisations that actively work with the most vulnerable are best positioned to inform and guide the process towards the creation of public policies that are inclusive and effective.

The Government of Guyana is one for all peoples in this land and embraces active, respectful engagements with representatives of civil society in the creation of policies and in their implementation.  The right to access to information and participation in the formulation of policies and programmes is enshrined in a number of our critical laws including the Access to Information Act and are being upheld by this new administration. 

The development of Guyana depends largely on the ability of its diverse groups to collaborate and make decisions that move the country forward.  As such, I call on each of you participating in this capacity building exercise to envision over the next two days how you can positively influence and impact the creation of a better Guyana, a more informed and cohesive Guyana. 

We look forward to future engagements that will see public policy advocacy that result in Guyana achieving the greatest good for its people. 

Best wishes for fruitful discussions and tangible outcomes. 



Feature Remarks by Mr. Benedikt Madl, Head, Bilateral Cooperation



Feature Remarks 
delivered by Mr. Benedikt Madl, Head, Bilateral Cooperation
Public Policy Advocacy Training 
for the Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacity Strengthening Project
September 16, 2015 at the Regency Hotel, Hadfield Street, Georgetown



Madam Chairperson
Members of the Head Table
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Representatives of Civil Society Organisations



Mr. Benedikt Madl, Head, Bilateral Cooperation
Good morning.

It is my honour that I today represent the European Union to deliver the feature remarks at this opening session of the Public Policy Advocacy Training.  This training forms an integral part of the European Union funded Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project which is being executed by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD).

First, I would like to congratulate and applaud Joel Simpson and the team at SASOD for this initiative which aims to strengthen and further empower the many civil society organisations present here in their approach and engagement with the decision and policy makers in Guyana.  Coming on the heels of the baseline and mapping studies earlier undertaken in the project, this Public Policy Advocacy Training having been informed of the needs of your organisations, will provide you with the principles and practices of effective public policy and for effective public consultations with the policy makers in Guyana.   

Guyana Vulnerable Capacities Strengthening Project Overview

By: John Quelch
at the Opening of the Civil Society Public Policy Advocacy Training 



John Quelch, Projects Coordinator

Head of Bilateral Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, Mr. Benedikt Madl, other members of the head table, members of the media, colleagues, good morning to you all. It’s my distinct honour to share with you a brief overview of the Guyana Vulnerable Capacities Strengthening Project.

The EU-funded Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project was designed to contribute towards the equitable treatment of all peoples in Guyana by supporting efforts to strengthen the participation of vulnerable persons and their representative organisations in decision-making processes of the state. This is continuously being achieved through strengthening the capacities of marginalized groups in Guyana, with the strong alliances of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF), and other Civil Society Organisations and partners, to effect key social, legal and policy changes in the country which advance full equality and citizenship for the vulnerable people in Guyana.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

As Suicides Rise, Documentary and Discussion Highlight Gaps in Guyana's Mental Health Approach

 Attendees engrossed in the film
(Georgetown) – The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in partnership with Depressed Black Gay Men (DBGM), Inc., with support from the United States Agency for International Development – Advancing Partnerships and Communities Project hosted a screening and discussion on the widely-acclaimed documentary “You Are Not Alone” on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at the Dutch Bottle Café in Georgetown.
The documentary, breaking a taboo in the Black and Black gay communities, was screened at a time when the numbers of suicides in Guyana continue to rise. As a film looking at depression, often an immediate precursor to suicide, it explored and provided a backdrop for many who attended the screening to learn about the underlying factors, such as culture, that contribute to the high rate of suicide in Guyana. Although the film, produced by US-based Guyanese Antoine Craigwell, looks at the factors leading to Black gay men experiencing and descending into depression and thoughts of suicide, attempts and completion, many of the issues expressed found ready applicability to the Guyanese socio-cultural context.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

YAM-GRPA, SASOD Launch Advocacy Blogging Competition at Youth Conference

In observance of International Youth Day, the Youth Advocacy Movement - Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (YAM - GRPA) and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) launched an innovative advocacy blogging competition at the one-day Youth Interaction on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at the Cara Lodge in Georgetown.
Lucella Campbell, IPPF Senior Advisor delivering her remarks
The Youth Interaction was opened by International Planned Parenthood Federation Senior Advisor Lucella Campbell, United Nations Population Fund Assistant Representative Patrice La Fleur, United Nations Resident Coordinator Khadija Musa, Regional Councillor Ryan Belgrave, on behalf of the Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence, and Technical Officer Theresa Gaime, on behalf of the Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman.
In her remarks, Campbell underscored the importance of engaging the Minister of Education to incorporate comprehensive sexually education in schools, in cultivating strong family relationships that would facilitate the sharing of pertinent information from parent to child and the amendment of laws to align the age of consent and the age of access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people.
La Fleur commended both SASOD and GRPA for coordinating such a timely and important conference. She noted that we fail our young people by denying them access to accurate information and friendly health services, which in turn will support them in making informed and responsible decisions.  According to La Fleur by empowering youth with the necessary information, they are better able to live a life of happiness and pleasure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Freedom

Years have gone by and I still feel the burning pain of scars inflected by moral whips.
Freedom, yet like steel bars wrapped around me I feel the cold shackles of rules gagging me to keep quiet. Pinning me to the ground like a common criminal .

Freedom, but the mere touch of a hand that makes my world feel complete causes me to live in exile. Tearing our flesh apart forcefully with threatening disgusted stares.
 
Freedom, but my voice still screams from behind a prison wall created in their minds, where I remain until eternity. Wishing me away into nothingness.
Freedom, but I still walk around lifeless, I still walk around voiceless, our blood still haunts the streets, I still live in fear of my "masters", freedom but I'm still not my own, I'm owned.
Trapped in the lines you've drawn for me to not walk between. Freedom.

Freedom, when only my hidden half makes me whole. When you break me every day with your one tracked minds.
 
Freedom, when every day I'm forced to rest in peace. Bidding me farewell when you tell me who I should have been. Firing bullets when I'm forced to see who you see.  
Freedom, but your definition of freedom is defined only by you. You say I'm free but I will never be free until you release your fears. Until the fear of something you know nothing of, releases you. When you are free, only then will I be allowed freedom.
Freedom does not come with conditions. I can never be free if the sight of  my affection shatters your world.

When the lifeless body of stranger hangs because of the jabs you aimlessly throw, that can never be freedom.

When death is the only life I see for me because I live in vain, because what I feel and I should have felt conflicts my very existence .

When I have nothing worthwhile to say because you hear nothing worth listening to. I'm worthless but not only to you .

How can I ever be free when I'm forced to fight for the rights of a human as If I'm nothing more than a beast. When will you ever let me be free. To feel, to live, to laugh, to love? When will you set me free so that I can finally be me

I pray everyday to be emancipated but you hunt me down with every step I try to make. Every time I try to break free I'm sentenced to fifty lashes of ridicule, hate and injustice. You sever my legs so that I know there's no running away from the truth. I'm not free.

I pray for the day I hold my lover's hand not pull away like reflexes when I feel someone approaching .

I pray for the day I stand beside my lover and not hope that we don't look inappropriately close.

I pray for the day I get to breathe and not feel overwhelmed with the secrets I'm forced to keep, or the lies I'm forced to speak every time I try to show who I am.

I pray for the day I get to pray and say "thank you father " and not whisper in fear," protect me please..." Only then will I be free, freedom for me will not only be a day.


- Anonymous.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Inaugural Meeting on LGBTI Political Leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean




Caribbean delegation at the conference
The Inaugural Meeting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Political Leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Lima, Peru from September 4 – 6, 2014. The meeting, organized by PromSex (Peru), Caribe Afirmativo (Columbia) and The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute (United States), saw more than 150 attendees representing organizations in more than 20 countries across Latin America and  the Caribbean including Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia,  Peru, Columbia, United States, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Lucia and others.
Over the course of three days, we were engaged in stimulating discussions on a number of areas in which LGBTI persons can contribute towards a political movement in their respective countries. We were specifically challenged to use the knowledge as best as we can to increase our political involvement.