LGBTTI OAS Coalition Declaration 2019 Statement in Medellin Colombia

July , 19th, 2019


Medellin, Colombia
June 2019

The Coalition of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals, Transsexuals, Transvestites and Intersex (LGBTTTI) from Latin America and the Caribbean working within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS) celebrates the culmination of another successful General Assembly of the OAS, which included the adoption of the Omnibus Resolution on Human Rights, which includes the section entitled "human rights and prevention of discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons", during its 49th regular session of the General Assembly, which took place in Medellín, Colombia, on June 27 and 28, 2019.


During this Dialogue, we saw an increasing number of allies and allies that integrated a message of equality for all people and of acceptance of sexual and gender diversity, including a recently established Coalition entitled Coalition of People Who Exercise Sex Work, composed of organizations under the Network of Sex Workers of Latin America and the Caribbean (RedTrasex), part of our LGBTTTI Coalition since 2018. We continue to see that conservative and anti-rights groups promote messages that violate human dignity and undermine the human rights of LGBTI people in the Americas. Some of these messages include a narrative that ignores the legitimacy of the organs of the Inter-American Human Rights System, including the competence of the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to monitor the compliance of States with the most basic international human rights obligations, which are not subject to discussion, such as the obligation to guarantee the rights to equality and non-discrimination.

This year, in the context of the Dialogue, we observed that some coalitions composed of conservative organizations distorted concepts such as corruption to openly attack members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), using precepts such as "gender ideology. "In this regard we emphasize that both experts and international human rights organizations have criticized the use of this empty term of real content and that seeks to attack any progress towards equality and non-discrimination, particularly in relation to gender, sexual orientation , identity and expression of gender and sexual characteristics.

We emphasize that in spite of the considerable advances in terms of policies, laws and judicial recognition in most of the countries of the Americas, there are many challenges that restrict the full enjoyment and exercise of our rights. We continue to see high levels of violence and discrimination in all spheres against LGBTI people, or those perceived as such, in America. In particular, the Coalition categorically condemns the wave of murders and violence directed against LGBT people that has been increasing in recent weeks in Honduras, and encourages the authorities to adopt all effective measures to respect and guarantee life, integrity and personal security. of LGBT people, and their defenders.
Likewise, there are still laws, policies and state practices that criminalize our sexual and affective relationships that violate our human rights. In this regard, we express our concern for crimes based on prejudice committed on the basis of sexual orientation, identity and gender expression, without the States maintaining official records on such crimes, which hinders their prevention and investigation.

In addition to the recent decriminalization of consensual sexual relations between same-sex adults in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Court of Justice issued a ruling in the McEwan case and others, declaring the rule of Guyana's criminal code to be unconstitutional that criminalized the use of garments associated with another gender. Likewise, there have been important advances in Latin American countries, among which we highlight the adoption of the Comprehensive Trans Law in Uruguay, the Gender Identity Law in Chile and the approval of equal marriage in Ecuador, as well as judicial recognition of the co-motherhood in the Satya case and the recognition of the right to the identity of the girl child, Amada.

As for autonomous sex work, although it is not explicitly prohibited in most countries of the Americas, there are legal provisions and laws that criminalize the different acts related to sex work. This, coupled with the absence of clear regulations that recognize sex work as work, creates the conditions that foment institutional violence -including sexual and physical violence, extortion and illegal detentions- and reinforces the obstacles that prevent sex workers. access to basic health and justice services. We note with concern that although the IACHR held a first hearing on human rights violations against women sex workers in 2017, the Commission has not granted further hearings on this issue, despite numerous requests in this regard.

We also see with great concern the emergence of bills or laws that seek to criminalize transmission, non-disclosure and exposure to HIV, or the misuse of criminal law to criminalize people living with HIV.

Finally, the Coalition stresses that the word of civil society is increasingly restricted in this space. With the high number of coalitions this year (33), each coalition had only three minutes to make their statement. We call on the OAS to expand the Dialogue schedule, so that each Coalition has at least five minutes to make its declaration, regardless of the number of coalitions.


The General Assembly of the OAS was held at the Convention Center of Medellin. Although the day of the Dialogue was held in one of its largest rooms, the General Assembly decided to take place in another part of the Center where there was a smaller maximum capacity. This led to limited entry of civil society participants: only one representative from each Coalition of civil society was allowed to enter the room where the General Committee was held and substitutions were not accepted. On the other hand, the first day a great controversy was generated because the entrance of the members of the civil society to the Plenary was severely limited, although it was evident that there was enough space in the room to place more chairs and allow access to all the people present. Given this situation and at the end of the first day, the society organizations directly claimed the Chancellor, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, the situation worsened when the General Secretariat sent a statement indicating that only three representatives of each Coalition could have access to the venue. General Assembly, that is, only 99 people would be allowed access. There was also a tacit agreement that the first 300 people who arrived at the Convention Center would enter. This meant that on the second day, the representatives of civil society waited standing in line outside the Convention Center from 6 am to 10:30 am, when the doors finally opened, before the complaint of the attendees. Likewise, the General Committee of the second day was held without the presence of civil society, and after our constant complaints and that more chairs were placed in the Plenary, it was finally that we managed to access the site.

We reiterate our deep rejection of the attempt to close spaces for civil society, led by the Colombian government in the context of the OAS General Assembly, and we call on the OAS to ensure that similar situations do not happen again.

The Coalition takes note of the re-election of the Commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR): Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño (Panama) and Margarette May Macaulay (Jamaica) and the election of Julissa Mantilla (Peru) and Edgar Stuardo Ralón ( Guatemala). In relation to the re-election of Commissioners Arosemena and Macaulay, the Coalition wishes to highlight its great commitment to respect and guarantee the human rights of all people, without discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, identity and gender expression and sexual characteristics.

We encourage the Inter-American Commission to continue protecting the rights of all persons, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual characteristics, thus supporting the proper interpretation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Inter-American human rights instruments.


This year the resolution was presented by thirteen OAS countries: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, the United States, Mexico and Uruguay.

The resolution continues to have the same essential content as in previous years, but it adds for the first time the category "sexual characteristics", together with the categories "sexual orientation, identity or gender expression". Thus, this year the General Assembly of the OAS approved a strengthened resolution that has the same content as the previous resolutions, but includes greater protection for intersex persons.

This Resolution is the result of the hard work that the LGBTTTI Coalition has been developing since 2007 in the OAS. As on previous occasions, their presence and continued participation in different actions and dialogues with the OAS Member States during the General Assembly counteracted the intolerant actions and hate speech of fundamentalist and anti-rights organizations that tried to stop the approval of said Resolution.

The Resolution was again successful this year, despite opposition from countries led by Paraguay, Saint Lucia and Jamaica; countries that precisely stand out for their lack of protection of the human rights of LGBTI people internally in their countries. A small minority of the OAS member states included footnotes in the resolution. This year the resolution has the lowest number of footnotes that have been included in this resolution so far, since this practice began in 2013. Only seven countries placed footnotes or announced the incorporation of these (Barbados , Guatemala, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia), compared to twelve footnotes in 2013.


More than 70 LGBT activists from Latin America and the Caribbean, representatives of Coalition organizations and organizations that are not members of our Coalition, met in Medellin to attend our annual meeting and the General Assembly. During the three days of our annual meeting, which, as every year is open to any LGBT organization that wants to participate, important issues related to strategy and advocacy work were discussed. In addition, the Coalition decided to incorporate the following organizations into the Coalition: Afirmativo Caribbean (Colombia), Acceder Foundation (Costa Rica), Las Reinas Chulas, Cabaret and Human Rights A.C. (Mexico) and Dominican Diversity (Dominican Republic).


We would like to thank Akahatá - Sexualities and Genders Work Team, Arcus Foundation, COC - Netherlands, IPAS, Latin American and Caribbean Trans Persons Network (Redlactrans), Latiomerican and Caribbean Network of Sex Workers and Synergy - Initiatives for Rights Human, as well as the numerous financial efforts made by different organizations within our Coalition, to guarantee our participation in this General Assembly of the OAS and annual meeting.

The LGBTTTI Coalition highlights the commitment of Catherine Pognat and the entire OAS Department of Social Inclusion to achieve a successful General Assembly where there were important advances in terms of dialogue, including a space of "improbable dialogues", which sought to promote the exchange of ideas between groups with radically opposed positions regarding the recognition of human rights.

We ask all OAS Member States to continue guaranteeing the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI persons, and to repeal the laws that criminalize or discriminate against us. We urge all OAS member states to take measures to promote the legislative, administrative and judicial reforms necessary to adapt their legal systems, interpretations and practices to the standards established in Advisory Opinion No. 24/17, issued by the Inter-American Court. in November 2017 and to respect its binding nature.

We encourage the OAS Member States to follow the leadership shown by Uruguay, which became May 2018, the first country to ratify the Inter-American Convention on all forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.



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