Posts Tagged 'Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean'

Civil Society Groups Condemn Increasing Homophobic and Transphobic Violence in the Caribbean

The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and other civil society groups in the region are condemning increasing homophobic and transphobic violence in the Caribbean.GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and other civil society groups in the region are 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,” the group said in a statement.

CVC said 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 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,” the CVC said.

“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,” the statement continued.

The group demanded greater protection from Caribbean governments for all LGBT people, legal frameworks that guarantee human rights protection, and investment in mechanisms that effectively respond to violence. It also called 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,” CVC said.

“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,” the statement concluded.

http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Fundamentalism-has-no-place-in-Caribbean-societies%2C-says-community-group-17015.html

Rainbow Coalition

rainbow-fpRepost from Foreign Policy

A gay rights revolution is sweeping across the Americas. It’s time for Washington to catch up.

In his second inaugural address, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to make the United States a beacon for the world by recommitting the country to its ideals of equality. He also made history by saying those ideals demand marriage rights for same-sex couples just as they have demanded equal citizenship for women and African Americans.

But even if the Supreme Court or lawmakers soon agree with Obama’s words — “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well” — the United States will be a latecomer to advancing marriage rights. The world’s leaders on this issue are not just from places Americans might expect — Western Europe or Canada — but many countries in our own hemisphere; places not usually known for progressivism on social issues. While Obama was undergoing his “evolution” on marriage rights, there has been a gay rights revolution that has stretched from Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Grande.

One dramatic illustration: When a broad coalition of human-rights activists brought a gay rights charter to the United Nations in 2007, the push was led not by the likes of Sweden or the Netherlands, but by Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Same-sex marriage was not legal in any of these countries then, but a lot has changed in the years since. Continue Reading

Widespread Pattern of Abuses Against LGBT People Worldwide

Washington, DC – May 25, 2012 – The Department of State’s 2011 Human Rights Report, released yesterday, catalogues an ongoing range of abuses and discriminatory treatment directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide – starkly underscoring what Secretary Hillary Clinton has called “…one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.”

Speaking in Geneva last December, Secretary Clinton noted that, too often, LGBT people remain an “invisible minority,” members of which “…are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed…” while “…authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse.”

The newly released report bears witness to such abuse.  Most disturbingly, it documents that police, other government security forces, and prison personnel have been implicated directly in the harassment or abuse of LGBT citizens in a range of countries, including (but not limited to) Afghanistan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, and Panama.  Harassment and abuse often were directed in particular at transgender individuals.  In Turkey, a range of LGBT organizations complained of harassment by police and government authorities.  In Cote d’Ivoire, the report notes that “gay men were reportedly subjected to beatings, imprisonment, verbal abuse, humiliation, and extortion by police, gendarmes, and members of the armed forces.”

The report also describes broader patterns of discrimination against LGBT individuals in many areas of the world.  In Sierra Leone and India, LGBT people have been denied basic social services, from health services to housing.  In Botswana and many other countries, governments failed to register LGBT advocacy groups or recognize their status as legitimate civil society organizations.  In Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and elsewhere, LGBT employees have been driven from their jobs, or faced discrimination in hiring, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In Nigeria, local authorities again failed to take any legal action against persons who stoned and beat members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, an LGBT-affirming church in Lagos in 2008.  During the past year, church parishioners and clergy continued to receive threatening e-mail messages, phone calls and letters.

The report notes that in South Africa, the country’s largest LGBT organization received in Cape Town alone an average of 10 new cases every week of lesbians being targeted for “corrective rape.”  This disturbing trend also was noted in other countries, where men raped lesbians “to punish them for being lesbian and to attempt to change their sexual orientation.”

Finally, various reports include instances in which the internet has been a source of discrimination against LGBT people. These include Oman, where authorities took measures to block LGBT related content from the internet, and Iran, which monitored internet websites for information on LGBT individuals.

The Council is grateful to our Foreign Service personnel who understand that, as Secretary Clinton has said, LGBT rights are, in fact, human rights.  We urge that the State Department and Congress work together to carry out a serious, sustained and purposeful dialogue with governing officials in all countries, as identified in the Department’s report, that have failed to recognize this essential reality, with a goal of ensuring that LGBT people are treated with the dignity, fairness, and equality to which all people should be entitled.  We further urge ongoing scrutiny of the degree to which foreign governments respect and honor the rights of their LGBT citizens, in keeping with the democratic and human rights principles on which U.S. foreign policy should be based.

Excerpts of the report’s findings on LGBT issues in every country can be downloaded here.


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