AS Saint Lucia celebrates 36 years of independence, United and Strong Inc. has renewed the call for the government to take a more proactive approach to removing the constitutional, legal and social barriers to full recognition of the human rights of all citizens. The organisation is taking this stance as it embarks on the observance of fifteen years of existence under the theme, “Education, Acceptance, Love.”
“Saint Lucia declared to the world its intention to forge its own path in 1979. However, thirty-six years later, many of the laws by which the nation governs its affairs, still reflect old English mores. This is in spite of the diversity of Saint Lucia’s population and the reality of the UK having long rid itself of the outdated laws,” says Executive Director of U&S. KenitaPlacide.
She says while former Prime Minister Stephen King committed to legislative reform to guarantee non-discrimination based on health, gender, sexual orientation in 2010, and Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony spoke to the diaspora on aid conditionality related to same-sex marriage in 2014, government has yet to engage in a comprehensive conversation around the issues. Placide adds: “Government must expand protection under the law to ensure the most vulnerable and marginalised especially, are able to fully enjoy their rights free from the threats of violence and discrimination”.
Since 2000 U&S has increasingly advocated for the recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Saint Lucia. In 2012 the organisation made its first public stand between the Ministry of Education and the Prime Minister’s office with the theme “Eradicate hate, educate”. This year’s theme further builds on this with the understanding that society has come a long way in its level of tolerance toward the LGBTI community.
“In this special 15th anniversary year we will continue our focus on education of the LGBTI community and the public at large on the realities, rights and responsibilities of LGBTI people in Saint Lucia, as education and awareness are the building blocks of acceptance and love,” says Placide.
The theme will resonate at the highest levels as U&S engages civil society and state actors in preparation for its report to the Universal Periodic Review where the country’s human rights record comes under scrutiny in 2015, she said.
United and Strong extends happy independence greetings to all Saint Lucians in the spirit of education, acceptance and love.