A Celebration of Courage: Previous Awardees 2000-2003

Felipa 2002

Marta Lucia Tamayo Rincon,Marta Lucia Alvarez Giraldo, and Alba Nelly Montoya, Colombia

Marta Tamayo Rincon, a feminist attorney, has represented the courageous petition of Marta Alvarez before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR). The case against the Colombian government was introduced before the ICHR on May 18, 1996, and it is the first case acknowledged by this international body regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case is still pending, but regardless of the outcome, Ms. Alvarez and Ms. Tamayo have moved a mountain by putting the human rights of lesbian and gay people, particularly prisoners, into the consciousness of the highest levels of human rights work.

Marta Alvarez, a prisoner, maintains that her personal dignity and integrity, as well as her right to equal treatment are being infringed upon by the refusal of Colombian prison authorities to allow her the right to conjugal visits with her partner due to her sexual identity as a lesbian. Colombian law states that conjugal visits are a right for all its citizens, without regard to sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the Colombian authorities insist on denying this right to Ms. Alvarez.

Marta Alvarez has been fighting this battle from behind bars since 1994, with the help of her attorney. Since then Ms. Alvarez has suffered unflagging persecution carried out through continuous prison transfers. Last January she was transferred to the Sevilla (Valle) prison, a detention center meant for male prisoners, where she has no possibility to work or exercise. This is her 13th prison transfer.

Ms. Alvarez' persecution has been so severe that only 20 days after her attorney met with Colombian officials in order to try to reach a friendly solution -- as suggested by the ICHR at their October 1st, 1999 hearing -- Ms. Alvarez was transferred once more. She was separated from her lover, and placed far away from the reach of her lawyer and her friends. There she spent a number of months isolated and the object of intense harassment by prison authorities. Ms. Alvarez kept firm on her demands. Following relentless pressure from Ms. Tamayo and the international community, Ms. Alvarez was finally transferred to a women's prison.

On August, 2001, Ms. Tamayo presented a similar action before a Colombian Court in favor of the right to conjugal visits for another lesbian woman in prison, Alba Nelly Montoya. On October 11, 2001 the Colombian Supreme Court recognized Ms. Montoya's right to the conjugal visit with her same sex partner, and ordered the Penitentiary Institute to allow the same sex visits in the same conditions in which they are carried out for heterosexual prisoners.

This legal victory could have paved the way for a friendly settlement of the Alvarez case, but prison authorities remain steadfast in denying Ms. Alvarezher rights. She hopes the ICHR will take a position against the Colombian government.

This judicial victory could affect the outcome of the Alvarez case.

The actions carried out by Ms. Tamayo in favor of the lesbian women in prison were accomplished over the last decade by her own initiative, originally as a lawyer for human rights institutions, and later on behalf of Red Nacional de Mujeres, Regional Bogota (National Women's Network, Bogota section), with absolute dedication and, as a rule, with her own resources.

The Felipa award given to Marta Lucia Tamayo Rincon, Marta Alvarez Giraldo and Alba Nelly Montoya would stimulate, in a very positive way, the possibility of alliances between woman and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender movements in Colombia, to work in favor of sexual rights, and particularly women's rights.

Cui Zi En, China

With keen awareness of widespread patterns of state repression of social, religious, and political movements, tongzhi (meaning "comrades," a term embraced by Chinese lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people to identify themselves) communities in mainland China face tremendous barriers to public expression and free association. Against this backdrop, for the past decade, Cui Zi En -- writer, actor, director, media figure, and teacher -- has creatively brought issues of same-sex love to positive light in Chinese society, while building meaningful bridges with other social movements. He has emerged, remarkably, as a public star and respected hero within the tongzhi community. The magnitude of his contributions toward greater public awareness and understanding of tongzhi issues in China can only be matched by the breadth of his talent, as an educator and critic, novelist, actor, director, screenwriter, and media figure.

Educator, Critic

In 1991, for demonstrating openness about his homosexuality as a professor in the Department of Literature at the Beijing Film Institute, Cui Zi En paid a steep price: he was stripped of his lecturing qualifications and salary, barred from teaching assignments for ten years, forced out of his on-campus apartment, and "baited" with allegations of sexual harassment. He was ordered into a hospital by the school administration, which expected him to be diagnosed as an "irresponsible homosexual patient." He refused to admit that homosexuality is a disease.

Since 2001, the year he returned to the academy, he has seized every opportunity to lecture on the subjects of "Gay Cinema" and "Underground Cinema in China."

He has been a tireless advocate for reforms in film classification. In 2000, he became the chief editor and writer of the "Underground Cinema in China" column in Music and Performance (Nanjing) for the entire year. Such a column is unique in China. The 52th Berlin International Film Festival (2002) translated and published his writings on the subject of reforms and underground cinema in 32 Internationals Forum des Jungen Films.

As one of the originators and organizers, he helped Peking University Film Association organize the First China Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (December, 2001). The festival showcased all the gay films ever produced by independent filmmakers in China. The festival was a success, and created considerable impact both in China and abroad.

Since 1993, he has published four books on literary theory and criticism, in addition to numerous critical essays in newspapers and magazines, many of which concern gay culture and queer theory.

He strives to build bridges between tongzhi and feminist movements, having written articles about feminism for Oriental Weekly (Nanjing), and currently teaching courses in women's liberation, both inside and outside the Beijing Film Institute.

Novelist

In May 1997, after seven years of dedication to putting his thoughts about homosexuality in writing, he published the first gay novel in modern China, Peach Lip. At that point, no Chinese-language books concerning the reality of homosexuals in China were available. The novel drew critical acclaim in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas. It remains banned in mainland China but available through unofficial channels. Cui Zi En came out publicly to the media with its introduction.

Between 1998 and 2000, he published four gay novels in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Beijing, The Fairy Tales of Triangle City, Enter into Clowns, Rose Bed, and I love Shi Dabo. These publications drew the acclaim of readers and the attention of numerous media channels in mainland China, many of which presented positive images of homosexuality for the first time.

June 2001, his novel Uncle's Earth won a Voice of Germany Literature Prize (Deutsche Welle Literaturpreis 2001). It was the first time a gay Chinese novel won an international prize.

He is currently thematizing issues related to the rights of sex workers in his novel Tokyo on the Ground, Beijing Underground, and a similarly related film Body Partner. He has conducted interviews with many sex workers in preparation for these two projects.

Actor, Director, Screenwriter

During the last three years, holding the belief that movies can effect social change powerfully and swiftly, he has dedicated most of his time -- and personal savings - to film production.

In June 1999, he wrote and performed in Men and Women, a film about homosexuality in China. It was screened in 57 international film festivals and earned him the FIPRESCI award at the 52nd Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.

He followed this movie in 2001 with the two short films Mass and The Positive and Negative Aspects of the Public Toilet. Both films entered the First Independent Film Festival in China.

His feature film Old Testament is a study of homosexuality in China in the last twenty years. The third part of the film focuses on caring for people living with HIV and AIDS.

In 2002, as original novel writer, screenwriter, and director, he completed Enter into Clowns, which revolves around the lives of transgender individuals. The film has been accepted by the Third Jeonju International Film Festival in Korea

Media Figure

He edited a special issue of Hope magazine (Guangzhou) about "Understanding Homosexuality" in June 1998, signaling the first time a mainstream magazine in mainland China devoted this level of attention to homosexuality. Here, the number for the Beijing Tongzhi Hotline was published.

In January 2002, he became the chief writer for the first special issue on homosexuality of Modern Cultures, which was sponsored by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. His essays including "A Report on Homosexual Lives in China" were published in this special issue.

In addition, he has appeared in dozens of interviews, both in print and on television, and also written articles to inspire understanding about homosexuality for several periodicals. His towering impact on the tongzhi community is evinced by the fact that he appears favorably in almost every Chinese gay homepage on the internet.

On December 20, 2000, he was interviewed in Gentle Talk, a famous talk show in Hunan, as the first gay man to come out on television, creating a stir throughout the country. In April 2001, Phoenix TV in Hong Kong interviewed him about the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disease.

On January 8, 2002, he and two other homosexuals participated in an on-line interactive broadcast at Sohu.com, a major Internet portal in China. Within two hours, tens of thousands of visitors reached the show.

Maher Sabry, Egypt

Maher Sabry is an Egyptian theater director, trained in dramatic arts at the University of Cairo. In 1999, with a small self-assembled troupe, he presented a piece called "The Harem," which he both wrote and directed. The work addressed themes of male and female homosexuality openly, and was the first publicly presented play in Egypt to do so. It was widely praised and presented at an international theater festival held in Cairo; but Mr. Sabry found himself shunned by the Egyptian theater world in the wake of its presentation.

When the arrests took place at the Queen Boat discotheque on the night of May 10-11, 2001, Mr. Sabry was the first person to disseminate news to other human rights organizations and to the world. He knew of the arrests almost immediately, since his flatmate was one of the people detained. Arrests of presumed homosexuals are relatively routine in Cairo. In the past, Mr. Sabry has helped young people--members of a closeted community--when he learned they were jailed. On this occasion, his intervention was even more important. Even before it became apparent that these arrests would in fact be treated differently (that the case would be exploitatively publicized in the Egyptian press, and sent to the anti-"terrorist" Emergency State Security Court), however, Mr. Sabry decided that he, and the other gay Egyptians subject to harassment and abuse, had had enough. With a hotmail account, and using the pseudonym Horus, he began sending information about the arrests to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other groups including IGLHRC, demanding that they take action. The case became notoriously known as the Cairo 52 because of the number of the people in detention awaiting trial.

IGLHRC first learned about the arrests through Horus's e-mails. His documentation was detailed, powerful, thorough, and accurate. He continued to send out information whenever it became available--exposing himself to personal risk not only by sending it out (at one point, police agents apparently tried to crack the password of his e-mail account) but by the means by which he got it. He waited for hours on many days outside the police station, and later the prison, where they were detained, hoping to catch a glimpse of or exchange a word with the detainees. He helped many of the defendants find lawyers--it is almost impossible for detainees to get legal representation unless their families appoint a lawyer for them, and Mr. Sabry negotiated with many of the families to do so. He also helped persuade the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre--the only Egyptian human rights organization willing to take a sympathetic stand--to represent some of the arrested men. It is largely through his work that the case became the cause celebre, and received the international attention that it did. Many of the 29 who were acquitted undoubtedly owe their freedom to Mr. Sabry.

Scott Long, IGLHRC's Program Director, attended the sentencing hearing on November 14, 2001 with Mr. Sabry, who had gone to every previous hearing and session, but was unable to get into them as a private citizen. Mr. Sabry had hoped to attend the hearing as Mr. Long's interpreter. They were both shut out of the courtroom instead; but Mr. Sabry voluntarily chose to give interviews to press outlets ranging from CNN to Al-Jazira on the day of the trial, further endangering himself, but for the first time creating visibility and a voice for Egyptian gays. His courage is incredible, and his impact has been enormous.

Felipa 2001

Companions on a Journey and Women's Support Group, Sri Lanka

Companions on a Journey (CJ) and its Women's Support Group (WSG) share a vision to create an environ-ment in Sri Lanka where society will accept, respect, and support people with alternative sexualities and persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) to live with freedom and dignity. The two groups, while recognizing the need for safe and autonomous spaces for women within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement in Sri Lanka, have developed a strong relationship of symbiosis and mutual support and share several common members. Last year, the two groups bonded together after a virulent editorial letter to a well-known newspaper, The Island, advocated for unleashing a gang of convicted rapists on a national lesbian conference proposed by the WSG. Sherman de Rose, a founder of CJ, filed a complaint over this letter to the Sri Lanka Press Council. In May 2000, the Press Council issued a judgement rejecting the complaint, condemning lesbianism as sadistic and salacious, and fining Mr. de Rose. Both groups seized this incident, which generated widespread national and international media coverage, as an opportunity to promote visibility and discussion about lesbianism.

Since its inception in 1995 as a small group of volunteers, CJ has grown into an organization which runs a drop-in center in Colombo and has a wide network of relationships with activists and groups working on social justice and human rights issues. Its long-term goals include winning social and legal recognition of the equal rights of people of alternative sexualities; developing linkages between human rights defenders and people working for the rights of LGBT people, as well as PLWHA; and developing a community of support for people of alternative sexualities and PLWHA. CJ has stood at the forefront of the movement to repeal Sections 365 and 365A of the Sri Lankan Penal Code, which criminalize homosexual practices. Given that many in Sri Lankan society tend to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia, CJ has endeavored for several years to build cooperative and mutually supportive relationships with groups and advocates working on children's rights issues. CJ has also organized several national meetings on issues of sexuality and HIV/AIDS. CJ serves as the (male) Asia Regional Representative of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

The WSG was founded in June 1999 as an autonomous body within CJ, basing itself within the Colombo drop-in center. The WSG has made tremendous progress in developing a community of support where none before had existed; advocating for the rights of lesbian and bisexual women under extreme conditions; networking with women's and human rights groups; and building group capacity. Its mission is to foster a social climate of tolerance and acceptance of lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and women living with HIV/AIDS thereby to foreground the human rights and humanist values of freedom and dignity for all.

The group also strives "to create a pluralistic society that affirms race, ethnicity, class, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other differences in identity as positive aspects of its make-up; and to acknowledge the right of individuals to make choices that challenge and continuously redefine these differences without fear of violence and intimidation."

Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, Jamaica

Guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Jamaican Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) strives to build a society which guarantees the human rights and equality of lesbians, all-sexuals (bisexuals and others not easily classifiable) and gays. J-FLAG is undaunted in its mission despite hostile conditions. Jamaican law explicitly punishes homosexual intercourse between men with a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and hard labor; the government of Jamaica is committed to maintaining this law. The law is mute on sex between women, but it remains a crucial element of the homophobic social atmosphere (compounded by militant traditional Christian beliefs) which harms lesbians as well.

Pursuing a multifaceted approach to social change, J-FLAG's strategies include:

  • Advocacy: J-FLAG submitted a proposal to the Joint Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament urging the inclusion of "sexual orientation" among constitutional anti-discrimination protections; organized fora with other local human rights organiza-tions; worked with Amnesty International, IGLHRC, and other organiza-tions to gather and disseminate information on conditions in Jamaica for LGB people; and provided legal representation and advice in sexual-orientation discrimination cases.
  • Education: J-FLAG has presented its work and its mission in universities and colleges (through debates or seminars), to the Public Defender and other government officials, through letters to the editor in different newspapers, proactively as well as in response to homophobic comments or occurrences in the press or by the media.
  • Social Services: J-FLAG runs a counseling hotline, receiving calls from 13 of Jamaica's 14 parishes, and average eighty-two calls per month. J-FLAG also maintains a library of gay-themed books and has acquired archives including materials from the 1970's and 1980's Jamaican Gay Freedom Movement (GFM).
  • Celebration: Renewing the community's spirit and bringing attention to crucial issues, J-FLAG organized a week-long celebration of their 1st anniversary including panel discussions, an award night, and a literary evening. J-FLAG also has a monthly social, a Lyme, which draws about 150 people (men and women of different classes), and in September 2000 hosted a Cabaret Show featuring local and international talent.
  • Community-Building: Members of J-FLAG also engage in outreach; WOMEN FOR WOMEN meets twice monthly; J-FLAG members are involved in Gay Lesbian, Bisexual Community (GLABCOM) activities bi-monthly. Lastly, J-FLAG sent representatives to ILGA Regional and World Conferences; to the Beijing +5 UN Conference on Women in New York; and to a Caribbean HIV/AIDS conference.

Approaching its second anniversary on 10 December 2000, J-FLAG has shown, time and again, whether providing support, urging legal reform, advocating in the court of public opinion, or reaching out in as many ways as possible -- this organization is "dedicated to moving forward in a spirit of oneness, love, dignity and respect towards the establishment of a world devoid of prejudice, injustice, discrimination and oppression, ensuring the human rights of lesbians, all-sexuals and gays."

Posthumous Award: Luis Gauthier, Chile (1950-2000)

Luis Gauthier, a longtime Chilean activist for the rights of gay men, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and people living with HIV/AIDS, died October 22nd,2000 in New York City from AIDS-related complications. Luis was the Regional Secretary for Latin American and the Caribbean with the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was honored to count him among the members of its International Advisory Board.

It is very difficult to summarize the achievements of a lifetime devoted to fight against homophobia and discrimination at local, regional and international levels. We will only mention here some of the campaigns in which Luis took an active part and for which he will be remembered.

During the II Summit of the Americas (Santiago de Chile, 15-19 April, 1998), the participating Presidents were faced for the first time in their lives with a document detailing the hardships and aspirations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of the Americas, signed by more than 80 organizations. The document itself, the collection of signatures and the lobby to make it accessible to the authorities had been the product of more than a year of hard work by activists in the region, lead and inspired by Luis. Immediately after the Summit, he started planning and even stronger campaign for the next meeting of Presidents, that will take place in Canada this year.

Luis was also instrumental in the struggle against the Chilean sodomy laws, that were finally repealed in December 23, 1999, after years of intense efforts by local activists.

He will be remembered by his ongoing efforts to promote cooperation and alliances between activists, at national, regional and international level. In his country, he contributed to the fusion of different organizations in the "Movimiento Unificado de Minor?s Sexuales" (Unified Sexual Minorities Movement). At regional level, he worked tirelessly to integrate organizations and individuals into ILGA, to strengthen its organizational structure and to advance its work. The ambitious and wide ranging Human Rights Program that ILGA Latin America will launch in its next Conference (Rio de Janeiro, November 11-14, 2000) is Luis' legacy to activists in the region. And at international level, he traveled extensively to secure contacts and resources for ILGA work in the region and to teach audiences worldwide about human rights issues of concern to LGBT and HIV+ people in Latin America.

Those of us in IGLHRC who had the privilege of working with him will miss his sense of humor, his humanity and his deep commitment to the cause of equality for all, without discrimination or injustice. We will be inspired by his strength, by his refusal to abandon his dreams of a better world and his efforts to make it a reality, even when death was already calling him.

Felipa 2000 Awardee: William Hernandez (El Salvador)

William Hernandez is the executive director of Entre Amigos, an organization that fights for the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people in El Salvador. Through his years in activism, Hernandez is credited with integrating LGBT issues into allied social movements. As a high profile activist, Hernandez has carried out his work despite receiving anonymous death threats. These threats take place in a context of violence and intimidation directed at civil society in El Salvador, and particularly at the LGBT community. Nevertheless, Hernandez continues to rise to the occasion of grassroots activism and organizing in the defense of LGBT people's human rights.

The threats against Mr. Hernandez are not an isolated crime. Entre Amigos activists point to the general impunity enjoyed by many offenders in El Salvador, and to a record of indifference on the part of the criminal-justice system toward violence or abuse against members of the homosexual community, with only cursory or perfunctory investigations being undertaken. Almost thirty murders have taken place since 1998. In addition, on December 6, 1998, unknown persons broke into the Entre Amigos offices and went through the confidential records of the group. A sound system was stolen during the break-in, in order, activists believe, to make it appear a robbery. Hernandez received a death threat on March 7, 1999, the day of El Salvador's presidential election and many others thereafter, including an assassination attempt earlier this year. Following an international campaign Hernandez has been placed under special police protection.

Entre Amigos' efforts in documenting and denouncing human rights violations have attracted the attention of the authorities: the National Civil Police and the General Attorney have started to investigate some cases involving LGBT people, in a country where impunity is the norm for crimes committed against disadvantaged populations. Much more pressure is needed to ensure that these investigations continue, that those connected to the crimes are prosecuted and sentenced, and ultimately that LGBT people in El Salvador can live in security and can have their human rights respected. Hernandez' courage and leadership under duress is a guarantee that this struggle continues and is an example to activists everywhere.

Felipa 2000 Posthumous Awardee: Dejan Nebrigic (1970-1999), Serbia

On December 29, 1999, on his 29th birthday, Serbian activist Dejan Nebrigic was murdered. With his death the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement lost a colleague and leader.

In 1990, Nebrigic publicly came out as one of the initiators of ARKADIJA, the first gay and lesbian lobby in Serbia. The following year, with the beginning of what would be a decade of war in then-Yugoslavia, he became an activist in the peace movement. A draft resister, he worked with the feminist peace cooperative Women in Black, and co-founded the anti-militarist and peace journal Pacifik. He helped organize meetings, bringing together international feminist and peace organizers, and worked at a women's support center. He was also a theater critic, essayist and novelist.

Nebrigic understood clearly that all struggles for freedom are intertwined. Daily, he worked passionately against patriarchy, homophobia, nationalism, and ethnic hatred.

Nebrigic was unique: out of the closet, accessible, and assertive about human rights advocacy. As a journalist, an activist, and a human being, he carried out what Vaclav Havel called our greatest moral imperative: he lived in truth.

Felipa 2000 Awardee: Ditshwanelo - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights

Ditshwanelo - the Botswana Centre for Human Rights - is an established human rights organization that has been outspoken and tireless in advocating for the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian people. Through the work of Ditshwanelo, the only gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) organization of Botswana, LeGaBiBo, was founded. To this day, LeGaBiBo continues to use the Ditshwanelo offices for its work.

Established in 1993, Ditshwanelo was founded by Botswana-based non-governmental organizations and individuals committed to human rights. This core group integrated the rights of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people into their work. In light of the recurring incidents of homophobia within southern Africa, Ditshwanelo is a testament to advocacy for GLB human rights by a mainstream organization.

For example, Botswana criminalized lesbian sex in June of 1998, broadening the existing penalty for sodomy. In the face of intense church advocacy in favor of the measure, Ditshwanelo lobbied against it, stating that such a restriction "is not justifiable in an open and democratic society based on freedom and equality."

As evidenced by its work on GLB equality issues, Ditshwanelo promotes and protects human rights, paying special attention to individuals and groups who are marginalized, underprivileged and discriminated against. Ditshwanelo also has worked on domestic worker, refugee, and asylum-seeker issues. The organization gathers information on human rights issues, and disseminates it to educate the general public as well as the Botswana's policy-makers. In addition to expanding people's awareness and knowledge of their rights, Ditshwanelo works to improve access to affordable legal assistance and to facilitate new initiatives in the field of human rights.

Receiving the Felipa de Souza Award for Ditshwanelo is the organization's Patron, His Grace Archbishop Makhulu, the Anglican Archbishop for Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Felipa 2000 Awardee: Intersex Society of North America (ISNA; USA)

The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is an advocacy, education, and peer support group which works to create a world free of shame, secrecy, and genital mutilation for intersex people. (Intersexuality refers to people who are born with anatomies that are not clearly male or female.)

ISNA works against strong cultural pressures which ascribe an urgency to children being labeled and easily classifiable as either "male" or "female." These cultural pressures result in massive human rights violations against intersex children generally in the form of invasive, involuntary and irreversible medical surgeries designed the make the child "look normal." ISNA offers a nuanced alternative, suggesting that children be labeled with a sex at birth, but that cosmetic surgical alterations of the genitals not be performed unless they are desired by the subject of the operation.

ISNA's advocacy campaign starts with the dissemination of first-person accounts, testifying about intersexuality in general, and about the damage caused by involuntary Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM). These first-person account testimonies are of paramount importance, as they give a face and a voice to a minority previously found only in specialized medical text books, where the intersex 'specimens' traditionally appear photographed naked, with their eyes covered. ISNA's testimonies have also managed to attract other intersex people, who previously did not know where to turn or with whom to speak about their condition.

ISNA has worked tirelessly for justice both in the United States and abroad with a minimal operations budget and scant support from the medical and human rights communities. With limited assistance from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, ISNA prepared a 10,000-word legal brief for the Colombian Constitutional Court. The Court issued two unprecedented and groundbreaking rulings in 1999, based heavily on ISNA's extensive documentation, forbidding IGM to children older than 5 years old, and allowing it for smaller children only under exceptional circumstances. The Court ruled further that intersex people were a minority protected from discrimination in Colombia.