Thursday, May 31, 2012

LGBT expereinces in Latin America-trends for Belize

May  31st, 2012

As members came in today in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the Hotel Plaza Ceaser. Activists reported from Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica.
Guatemala Report:
Found out that in Guatemala, they used her identity to detain her as her invitation letter was not considered legitimate. We learnt in Nicaragua the airline charge the person $50 more dollars. 80% of the murders documented happen happen in latin america. For Guyana, the police take the sex workers monies, ask for sexual favors and harass. When money is taken out of a trans person mouth who already is discriminated is creates food security for the individual
Honduras Report:
In less than 2 years over 37 LGBT person have been killed after Honduras Coup de'tat. One the first day a transwoman was killed. Just a few days ago a human rights defender was killed. People are generally stoned in the head or chest. A few have been strangled, burnt and mutilated. LGBT in an effort to address disrimination had a conference in 2010 to look at the criminal code, but the proposal submitted to congress was rejected because many in the congress was religious. The US government has been helpful, in supporting the investigation of crime against LGBT individuals

Bolivia Report:
In Bolivia, the trans group started a national network of trans women including a group for HIV. Arguements were made why The T in LGBT was always ignored for it was trans women who was most vulnerable to violence and discrimination. They built an alliance and change LGBT to TLGB in recognizition of trans vulnerability to violence. The Lesbian collective wanted to kill the coordinator for changing the prioritie of the population. The point is that even among the LGBT population the politics of division with the communioty can help undermine political advocacy. The group got monies from global fund to do a study on seroprevalence for trans woman.

With the creation of the Trans network it caused a problem witht he PLHIV network who saw that the network was competing for resources and was acting a parallel network. The challenge included having to negociate legal changes to ensure that one law was presented to government to a void stagnation in legal protection.

Jamica Report:
In Jamaica, they launch the first challenge to the sodomy law, get precautionary measures for the petitioners, and had difficulty with TV stations not wanting to air ads on tolerance. the station basically said that there was nothing to be proud of being gay. The church has been on the offensive after obama public support of gay marriage. they even revealed publicly a man who is now married and had 9 children after he claimed he was cure of his gayness. Minister of justice has sent a message that the savings clause law should go to allow the court to decide this issue. Parliment does not want to do this because it sees it as political suicide. There is a jamaican on the inter-american human rights commission from URAP. Data have been collected that homelessness and homophobia are intrically linked which drives food security issues and restrict employment work to sex work aat times.

Nicaragua Report:
In nicaragua, they obtain legal status recently. The evnagelicals influences every thing in central america. The catholic church have argued that the family law is just about married couples with family. In the pass three years there have been 3 activists killed in the rural areas in the last year. discrimination is a criminal offense in nicaragua. We have a special prosecutor for sexual diversity. Her name is Samira montero. she works close with the trans community of human rights violations. There are similair programs like Bolivia. There is an FAO program that includes LGBT persons that helps to give them cows etc to support economic needs.

Suriname Report:
In Suriname parliament, they had a person who said that homosexuals should be eliminated. There was a reprimand of the parliamentarian, but the person continued in the media. It triggered a dialogue in the public. Meetings where held to highlight root causes of homophobia. The areas were rights, health and trained 14 LGBT advocates. We had some one from the OAS an old judge, who told us about the need for doing a shadow report but did not tell about the 4 resolutions passed at the OAS.

In Suriname, the government has said that no one should be discriminated, but there must be a dialogue with the churches on the issue. We formed an LGBT platform. We have asked the T's to participate, but they are not ready.Found out that the trans individuals are using hormones in the wrong way endangering their health. Planning to write shadow report for 2015.

Tinidad And Tobago Report:
In T&T, the attorney general made a statement that the government will have review laws that criminalise adult consenual sex. They had a children's bill that criminalise same sex activty between a certain age, but it was not for heterosexual sex. The inequity in the law led to independent senators objecting. The opposition has said that they will have to be more progressive of the equal opportunity amendments when it comes up. CAiSO ,had a demonstration infront of parliament with positive coverage from media. When it comes to marriage people are irrational. the Minister of Foreign affairs came out after obama statement to support marriage that the government will be taking a position on the issue soon. They think that statement was to confuse any forward movement on the equal opportunity amendment. Additional challenges include Trans persons who would be considered leaders have left the country seeking asylum. Homelessness remains a problem. The gender policy has sought to refine the definition of gender, but the evangelicals have expressed an issue with social definition.

Costa Rica Report:
We discovered that in Costa Rica they elected a fundmentalist president who is from Opus Day. The president signed a bilateral agreement with the Vatican which leads to the vatican influencing with the protocols around health. Costa rica has made Catholicism, the official religion and there is arrangements for Costa rica to send the Vatican money. the bilateral agreement has been denounced as its one of a few countries that do not allow invitro services.
There was an effort to have the majority decide the level of rights for LGBT population through a referendum, but that process was blocked by a legal challenge. They did introduce a cohabitation bill for review to the commission, but strangely, the president of the local commission is a fundamentalist. Go figure on the separation of church and state.

Beyond this, Belize has an ambassador to the Vatican, Harry Lawerence, who filed an affidavit against our legal challenge. We have the Evangelicals, Catholics and Anglican as interested parties against our case. So, its not far fetch to have a so called constitutional democracy being undermine solely of religious positions. We have a UPR addendum report of 2009 which document response. It basically speaks to needing a political mandate to change laws that decriminalise. If the constition recognises the fundmental rights and freedoms of all citizens and if the Universal Declaration is acknowledged in policy documents, how can political attitude maintain they need a political mandate when we have already subcribed to these acknowledgements, but more importantly to a constitution that was created by Belizeans.


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