OAS LGBTTI Coalition Comunique,Declaration Statement and Resolution in Guatemala

Posted June 9th, 2013




The Coalition of LGBTTTI organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean, formed by groups belonging to more than 23 countries, expresses in this communiqué its assessment of the activities of the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States, which took place in La Antigua, Guatemala, on June 4 -6, 2013; as well as of its work in the days prior to the Assembly.
After a long process of discussions and negotiations, the OAS has adopted two conventions at this General Assembly: the Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance; and the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, which for the first time in the region include the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in an international instrument for the protection of human rights. Likewise, the OAS General Assembly has adopted the fifth resolution AG / RES.  2807 (XLIII-O/13) "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression," which includes urging Member States to ensure adequate protection for intersex people and to implement policies and procedures, as appropriate, to ensure conformity of medical practice with recognized standards of human rights in the matter. The resolution was a direct result of the LGBTTTI Coalition's Advocacy, which was particularly necessary in the final discussion of the text within the General Committee, where the drafts and resolutions that do not reach the consensus of the member states are discussed. This discussion took place at the request of El Salvador which was accompanied by the considerations expressed by the delegations of Jamaica, Belize and Barbados. These considerations faced strong opposition from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Canada and Chile.

Moreover, in the plenary session of June 5, all OAS member states endorsed the contents of the draft Conventions. This constitutes a historic moment for the Inter-American human rights protection system and especially for the regional LGBTTTI movement. In particular, the text of the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance includes, among the duties of the states, the obligation to prevent, suppress, prohibit and punish all acts and manifestations of discrimination and intolerance, including the publication, circulation and dissemination of any material defending and inciting hatred and intolerance. This includes the acts of genocide or crimes against humanity, including violence and criminal acts against the property of the victims; any enforcement action and restriction of the exercise of rights, such as the admission to public and private places, and the access to education and any of the social, economic and cultural rights.

In addition, the Convention requires member states of the OAS to adopt policies, measures and affirmative actions in favor of individuals or groups exposed to discrimination and intolerance. It also requires the adoption of legislation clearly defining and prohibiting discrimination and intolerance and ensuring equal access to the justice system, to expeditious and effective processes, and fair compensation for damage in civil or criminal liability.

In order to follow up on the commitments made by the signatory states of the two Conventions, the approved document establishes an Inter-American Committee, which shall be integrated by one independent expert appointed by every State party.

Once approved, the Conventions were made available to the country representatives for signature, which was performed on the last day of sessions by Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Antigua and Barbuda only signed the Convention on Racism. The Convention will enter into force 30 days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification of only two countries.

In the days prior to the 43rd General Assembly, the Coalition held a side event in preparation for advocacy and involvement in the OAS, with an agenda that included (a) the implementation of the resolution "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity "; (b) the Interaction with the Human Rights Commission (with particular focus on thematic hearings) and the election of new commissioners to the Commission, (c) the interaction with the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs; the (d) advocacy strategy for signature and ratification of the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance and (e) advocacy among Member States. The event was attended by Jorge Sanin, director of the Department of International Affairs of the OAS; and Mayra Ahern, Alternate Representative of the U.S. Mission to the OAS.
During the informal dialogue between the Secretary General of the OAS and civil society held on June 3 in La Antigua, LGBTTTI Coalition members of the English Caribbean, Caribbean Forum for the Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS) asked the Secretary General José Miguel Insulza for an update of the dialogue under the auspices of the Secretariat and the Caribbean countries to decriminalize sexual practices between people of the same sex. The issues of the problem of drugs and the vulnerability of trans persons to drug consumption and trafficking were also raised. As well, the OAS recognition of the social name of trans persons since 2007, proposing the recognition of gender identity in all member countries, was recalled. Mr. Insulza highlighted the importance of the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance within the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the region. He also acknowledged the work of LGBTTTI civil society organizations in achieving this accomplishment.
On June 4, the dialogue between the civil society and heads of delegations of the member countries of the OAS was held. The LGBTTTI people were represented by Johana Ramirez, a Guatemalan trans activist. Her speech can be read below. At the meeting, the heads of the delegations of Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay reaffirmed their countries' commitment to promote and protect the rights of LGBTTTI people. The dialogue with civil society was particularly controversial due to the participation of Pro-Life activists who opposed the recognition of any discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the final plenary session, three members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights were elected. José de Jesús Orozco of Mexico, James Cavallaro of the U.S. and Paulo De Tarso Vannuchi of Brazil, the winning candidates, had received the LGBTTTI Coalition's support in its advocacy work with other delegations of member countries.
In his annual report, the President of the IACHR, José de Jesús Orozco, prominently reported on the Commission's activities related to LGBTTTI human rights. Orozco made reference to 54 murders on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, violence against lesbians and the frequent cases of arbitrary arrest and detention of trans people in the region, highlighting the work of LGBTI Unit of the Commission.
We welcome the successful work of the LGBTTTI Coalition under this year's particularly complex circumstances due to the presence of fundamentalist Catholic groups and the legally inconsistent and ambiguously expressed concerns of Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kits & Nevis, Dominica, Jamaica, Barbados, Suriname, Guyana, Honduras, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala about Resolution AG / RES. 2807 (XLIII-O/13).
We would like to thank COC Netherlands, the UNDP, GISHR - Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, and AIDS Alliance for their support to our participation in this Assembly.
The participants of the Coalition of LGBTTTI Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean working within the framework of the OAS were:

1.    AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay
3.    ASOCIACIÓN LIDERES EN ACCION - Germán Rincón Perfetti - Colombia
5.    ASPIDH – Mónica Linares Hernández – El Salvador
6.    ATRU – Gloria Alvez Mariños – Uruguay
8.    COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD - July Betances – Dominican Republic
9.    COLECTIVO OVEJAS NEGRAS – Mauricio Coitiño – Uruguay
10.  COLECTIVO UNIDAD COLOR ROSA – Claudia Spellmant – Honduras
11.  FUNDACION SANTAMARIA – Valentina Riascos Sánchez – Colombia
12.  GRUPO ESPERANÇA – Liza Mineli – Brazil
14.  ALFIL - Rashel Erazo - Ecuador
15.  LETRA S, SIDA, CULTURA Y VIDA COTIDIANA – Alejandro Brito – Mexico
16.  MULABI-COSTA RICA – Natasha Jiménez – Costa Rica
18.  ORGANIZACIÓN TRANS REINAS DE LA NOCHE – Johana Ramírez – Guatemala
19.  PANAMBI – Marie Betancourt – Paraguay
21.  RED MEXICANA DE MUJERES TRANS – Paty Betancourt – Mexico
22.  RED NICARAGUENSE DE ACTIVISTAS TRANS – Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua
23.  SINDICATO AMANDA JOFRÉ – Bianca Bustos Vidal – Chile
26.  UNITED AND STRONG – Adaryl Williams – Saint Lucia
27.  WOMEN’S WAY – Tieneke Sumter – Suriname

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

La Antigua, Guatemala, June 6, 2013


Mister Secretary General, Honourable Ministers, Representatives of Official Delegations, Civil Society Colleagues:

We, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex (hereinafter LGBTTTI) organizations, convened in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, from May 31st to June 2nd, 2013,
in accordance with the directives established by the OAS General Assembly in Resolutions AG/RES.2092 (XXXV-O/05); CP/RES.759 (1217/99); AG/RES.840 (1361/03) through the resolutions AG/RES.1707 (XXX-O/00) and AG/RES.1915 (XXXIII-O/03), which set forth a regulatory framework to enhance and strengthen civil society participation in the OAS and in the Summit of the Americas process, would like to express that:

The policies of repression and criminalization of drug possession for personal consumption have led to human rights violations of vulnerable groups. Decriminalization and a fresh perspective on this reality will reduce discrimination, resulting in processes of social inclusion and democratic guarantees; not only for LGBTTTI persons but also for afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, disabled persons, sexual workers, and other vulnerable groups.

In the countries of Central America, organized crime groups are controlled by neither the police nor any other arm of the state, which promotes citizen insecurity.

In this context, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has increased, with acts of verbal and physical violence, torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, forced disappearances, and killings as the extreme expression of such violence.

Trans persons are among those most affected by these attacks. They are also denied their right to health, to education and to work, in short, to dignity. Lack of documents recognizing the gender identity that trans persons have adopted and constructed, or conditioning their issuance on humiliating medical procedures, constitutes an insurmountable limit on their access to rights.

Low self-esteem among lesbian women, caused by a patriarchal system that ignores and stigmatizes them, makes them vulnerable to problems related to mental health, addictions, domestic violence, psico-social debilitation, as well as limiting their access to comprehensive health care. In the “English-speaking” (Commonwealth) Caribbean, this same system pushes LGBTTTI youth into homelessness and young heterosexual men to underperformance in school.

Eleven Caribbean countries – one third of the states in the Americas – continue to retain laws that criminalize and prohibit consensual same-sex intimacy, crossdressing “for an improper purpose”, as well as entry of foreigners based on their homosexuality. Some of these governments have very recently enacted or enforced such laws; others deliberately exclude LGBT persons from protections against discrimination.

In this sub region, access to justice and the mechanisms of human rights protection are weak, Constitutional protection excludes sexuality, access to supranational human rights defense mechanisms is limited, and Caribbean governments have declared that human rights protection of sexual minorities requires a "political mandate" of the majority.

Nonetheless, we welcome the conclusion of the negotiation process on both the draft Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance and draft Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance, and we acknowledge the leadership role of the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda.

We therefore we demand that Member States:

  1. Sign, ratify and implement the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, as well as the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance.
  2. Adopt legislation and policies in line with the commitments undertaken in the resolutions "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" adopted by previous General Assemblies.
  3. Create or strengthen National Human Rights Institutions and implement educational programs that develop a culture of human rights and a pluralistic society.
  4. Take measures to ensure access to justice and guarantee of due process to persons without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  5. Adopt comprehensive and specific health strategies for LGBTTTI populations, with a particular emphasis on the distinct needs of trans persons.
  6. Review their legislative frameworks, repealing laws that criminalize sex between people of the same sex.
  7. Adopt laws that recognize the gender identity of trans persons.
  8. Promote direct participation of LGBTTTI persons and civil society groups in dialogue, consultations, policy development and planning at national and local levels.
  9. Consider the proposal for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights.
  10. Adopt the Inter-American human rights instruments.

And that the General Assembly:

- Adopts the draft resolution "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression" presented by the delegation of Brazil, whose initiative is appreciated;

- Adopts the draft resolution "Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance";

- Adopts the draft resolution "Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance."

AG/RES. 2807 (XLIII-O/13)

AND GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION[1]/ [2]/ [3]/ [4]/ [5]/[6]/ [7]/

(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 6, 2013)


            TAKING INTO ACCOUNT resolutions AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09), AG/RES. 2600 (XL-O/10), AG/RES. 2653 (XLI-O/11), and AG/RES. 2721 (XLII-O/12), “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;

            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;

TAKING NOTE of the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (A/HRC/22/53), which states that “Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, ‘in an attempt to fix their sex,’ leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering,” and

            TAKING NOTE, FINALLY, of the terminological study entitled “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression: Some terminology and relevant standards,” prepared by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in fulfillment of resolution AG/RES. 2653 (XLI-O/11), Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity, of April 23, 2012,


            1.         To condemn all forms of discrimination against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, 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 equal access to political participation and in other areas of public life, and to avoid interferences in their private life.[8]/
            2.         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 or expression.

            3.         To condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression; 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.

            4.         In addition, to encourage states, within their institutional capacities, to produce data on homophobic and transphobic violence, with a view to fostering public policies that protect the human rights of lesbians, gays, and bisexual, transsexual, and intersex people (LGBTI).6/

            5.         To urge member 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 or expression.

            6.         To urge member states to afford appropriate protection to intersex people and to implement policies and procedures, as appropriate, to ensure medical practices that are consistent with applicable human rights standards.

            7.         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 continue with its work to prepare a hemispheric study on the subject; and to urge member states to support the efforts of the Commission in this area.6/

            8.         To request the IACHR to continue preparing 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 or expression and to prepare, based on that study, a guide aimed at promoting the decriminalization of homosexuality and practices related to gender identity or expression.

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

            10.       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.


1.                   … of legal proceedings in the Supreme Court of Belize."

… is one that is not thoroughly defined internationally or that has international acceptance. St. Vincent and the Grenadines considers that the terminology is heavily nuanced and moreover, that it is currently not defined in its domestic law. Since the discussion on the human rights of LGBT persons is an ongoing one at the level of the United Nations, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is of the view that the discourse at the OAS should be confined only to language which has been recognized or approved by the United Nations.

3.                   …to impose one value system over another. Furthermore, this term and other new terminologies used in the text, have not gained international acceptance nor are they defined in Jamaica’s domestic law.

5.             …the territory of Suriname have an equal claim to protection of person and property, does not discriminate on the grounds of birth, sex, race, language, religious origin, education, political beliefs, economic position or any other status.
As a multicultural society, the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression is one that requires a broad based consultation process at the national level, involving all sectors of society, including the civil society, regarding many of the principles that are being brought to this resolution by OAS member states.
The Republic of Suriname would be willing to join consensus, but places on record that it is not in a position to acknowledge some of the elements and principles addressed in the resolution at this time, as these require further national discussion. The Republic of Suriname is in favor of the use of inter-governmentally agreed human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the various human rights instruments adopted by the United Nations.

6.             Committee of the National Assembly.

7.             …regardless of race, creed, sex etc.
However, Guatemala considers that not granting legal recognition to marriage between persons of the same sex does not constitute a discriminatory practice.

[1].      "The Government of Belize is unable to join consensus on this resolution given the fact that several of the issues and principles addressed therein, directly or indirectly, are at present the subject …
[2].      The delegations of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Kitts and Nevis and Dominica are unable to join consensus on the approval of this resolution. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is of the view that the term “gender expression” …
[3].      The Government of Jamaica is unable to join the consensus on the approval of this resolution, given that the terminology of gender expression, as proposed, is ambiguous and has the potential…
[4]       Barbados submitted the following footnote to the General Committee of the General Assembly. At the fourth plenary session it announced that the text would be modified: Barbados, mindful of the diversity of views held by Member States on this subject, will continue to consider these as it promotes a balanced approach to such issues within its national context.
[5]       The Republic of Suriname remains committed to promote and defend all human rights for all and based on the principle of equality in which all who are within…
[6].      The Government of Guyana is unable to join consensus on this Resolution given the fact that several if the issues addressed herein are currently the subject of deliberation by a special select …
[7].      The delegations of Honduras, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago announced that they would submit footnotes to this resolution.
[8].         The State of Guatemala declares that it promotes and defends all human rights and, with respect to the provisions of this resolution, does not discriminate on any grounds, …


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