SAINT LUCIA and the rest of the eastern Caribbean are next on the list of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality Inc. (ECADE) for engagement in litigation and dealing with the criminalisation of the rights of the LGBTQI community.
The organisation’s aspiration to fight laws in Saint Lucia that target the sexual orientation and privacy of the LGBTQI community feeds off a meeting that took place late last month in the Caribbean that examined the criminalisation of people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
The meeting was hosted by ECADE in partnership with Open Society Foundations, the Southern African Litigation Trust, the Human Dignity Trust, and Parliamentarians for Global Action.
According to ECADE, in varying degrees, criminalisation negatively impacts the rights of the LGBTQI community to freedom of association, expression, privacy and family life. The organization claimed that criminalisation has a significant effect on access to health, education and other social services for LGBTQI and that drives prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and influences negative public attitudes that are often reinforced by politicians, the media and faith-based leaders.
“The global convening brought together activists, lawyers, legislators and communications experts who are working to challenge the criminalisation of people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It provided a space for experts from diverse sectors with a wide range of skills to engage in frank discussions about the current state of the rights of LGBTQI people,” noted ECADE in a release.
This year’s convening focuses on how litigation, legislative reform and strategic communications can be deployed to achieve decriminalisation and advance the rights of LGBTQI people.
The focus was heavily on national and regional level decriminalisation in the Caribbean. Activists as part of the undertaking held a full day of Caribbean-specific discussion around litigation in a region that has seen an upsurge in legal action on buggery and gross indecency laws in recent years. Gay men in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago have successfully challenged colonial-era buggery laws, while challenges have recently been launched in Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Laws in Barbados and Jamaica have also been challenged through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The convening also focussed on activists around the world who have successfully sought resolution to discriminatory anti-gay laws in the courts, as well as current and future litigation. Efforts on the African continent in particular were recognised for the creativity with which activists have had to approach their work in the face of violence and extremism.
The last decade has seen a reduction in the number of countries curtailing LGBTQI rights, from 92 in 2006 to the current 72. Activists and human rights organisations have been encouraged by this shift. The third Global Convening on the Decriminalisation of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity significantly contributed to advancing the conversation and action on improving the human rights status of the LGBTQI community worldwide.