LGBTTTI Coalition Applauds Approval of OAS Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On June 3, 2009, the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in the countries of the Americas at its 39th General Assembly session in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

This resolution is the result of three years of advocacy work by a Coalition of 24 LGBTTTI groups from 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This Coalition meets every year before the General Assembly to coordinate its advocacy efforts within the OAS.

During the informal dialogue between the Secretary General of the OAS and civil society groups in San Pedro Sula, José Miguel Insulza highlighted the need for the secretariat to draft a special report focusing in particular on hate crimes and human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual diversity.

Later, during the dialogue between the heads of delegations of member states and civil society groups, Claudia Sosa Medina, a Honduran transgender woman, acting as spokesperson of a coalition of activists from Honduras, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, The Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Suriname, Guyana, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Belize, read a statement requesting the ministers of foreign affairs of the OAS member countries to counteract violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex individuals within the region.

The Coalition expressed its concern for the lack of reference to the notion of gender identity and expression in paragraph 5 of the Declaration of San Pedro Sula, which says in relevant part: “Gender identity of travestis, transgenders and transsexuals is a fundamental element of our individual freedom and self-construction.”

The representative from the United States reiterated the commitment of President Barack Obama to supporting laws for the development of policies that recognize the rights of LGBT people, highlighted her country’s signature of the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, and expressed U.S. opposition to so-called “sodomy laws.”

The representative of Brazil mentioned that country’s sponsorship of the draft resolution “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” while Colombia emphasized that the goal of eliminating violence against LGBT people is very important for its government, and that its parliament has approved instruments towards reaching this goal.

Finally, the representative from Saint Kitts & Nevis expressed that country’s opposition to any form of violence against any individual, regardless of the orientation of the human being.

On June 3, during the fourth plenary session, the Permanent Council (2008-2009) presented its annual report, containing the resolutions approved by the Permanent Council itself. One of those resolutions approved was AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” The resolution not only ratifies what was established last year by resolution AG/RES.2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) entitled, “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” but also references the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity presented at the UN General Assembly on December 18th, 2008.

The new resolution, sponsored by Brazil, condemns acts of violence and human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It also expresses concern over violence against human rights defenders working against these kinds of violations, calling on the states to ensure their protection and on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American system to take action on this issue. Finally, the resolution reiterates the request for the Committee on Legal and Political Affairs to include the issue of “sexual orientation and gender identity” in its agenda for the next ordinary period of sessions.

As a Coalition, we celebrate the approval of this second resolution and we consider it to be one of the tangible and historical results of the advocacy work started in 2006 by Global Rights, Mulabi - Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos and IGLHRC – LAC. This work included coordinating the creation of this coalition that initially focused on advocacy for the inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in the draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.

We thank UNDP, OEA, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and Global Rights for their support ensuring our participation in this General Assembly.

The participants of the Coalition of LGBTTTI Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean within the OAS were:

AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay, Colectivo TTT San Pedro Sula- Claudia Sosa - Honduras, COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD, Julie Betances – Dominican Republic, CORPORACIÓN PROMOCIÓN DE LA MUJER, Soledad Varela - Ecuador, CORPORACION OPCION, Diana Navarro - Colombia, ENTRE-TRANSITOS - Camilo Andrés Rojas - Colombia, GRENCHAP - Kimany Parke - Grenada, HUMANA NACION TRANS-Hazel Gloria Davenport - Mexico, IGLHRC - Marcelo Ferreyra – Argentina, INSTITUTO RUNA-Belissa Andia – Peru, ASOCIACIÓN LIDERES EN ACCION -Germán Rincón - Colombia, SURINAME MEN UNITED - Kenneth Van Endem - Suriname, MULABI, ESPACIO LATINOAMERICANO DE SEXUALIDADES Y DERECHOS- Marina Bernal- México- Colombia, ORGANIZACIÓN DE TRANSEXUALES POR LA DIGNIDAD DE LA DIVERSIDAD Andrés Rivera – Chile, RED AFRO LGBTI - Edmilson Medeiros BRAZIL, J-FLAG - Maurice Tomilson – Jamaica, RED LACTRANS - Marcela Romero- Argentina, RED TRANS Nicaragua - Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua, SOCIETY AGAINST SEXUAL ORIENTATION DIDSCRIMINATION- Namela Baynes Henry - Guyana, UNIBAM - Devon Gabourel - Belize, VELVET UNDERGROUND Angela Francis - Trinidad and Tobago.

As a Coalition partner: Stefano Fabeni-Global Rights


RESOLUTION
AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09)

HUMAN RIGHTS, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, AND GENDER IDENTITY

(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 4, 2009)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

BEARING IN MIND resolution AG/RES.. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), entitled “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity”;

REAFFIRMING:

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 Declaration, 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 the security of the person;

CONSIDERING that the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) proclaims that the historic mission of America 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;

TAKING NOTE of the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity presented to the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2008; and

NOTING WITH CONCERN acts of violence and related human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,

RESOLVES:

1. To condemn acts of violence and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

2. To urge states to ensure that acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals because of sexual orientation and gender identity are investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice.

3. To urge states to ensure adequate protection for human rights defenders who work on the issue of acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

4. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the other organs of the inter-American system to continue to pay sufficient attention to this issue.

5. To reiterate its request for the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) to include on its agenda, before the fortieth regular session of the General Assembly, the topic of “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

6. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its fortieth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.


SAN PEDRO SULA DECLARATION OF THE COALITION OF LESBIANS, GAYS, BISEXUALS, TRAVESTI, TRANSSEXUALS, TRANSGENDERS AND INTERSEX OF THE AMERICAS.

Mister Secretary General, Ministers, Members of the Official Delegations, Civil Society Representatives,

We, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex organizations, convened in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on May 29, 30 and 31, 2009, in accordance with the directives established by the General Assembly of the OAS in its resolutions AG/RES.2092(XXXV-O/05); CP/RES.759(1217/99); 840(1361/03); AG/RES.1707(XXX-O/00) and AG/RES.1915(XXXIII-O/03), which determine a regulatory framework to enhance and strengthen civil society participation in OAS activities and in the Summit of the Americas process, highlighting the importance of the resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), express our concern for the omission of the concept of gender identity and expression from paragraph 5 of the draft declaration of San Pedro Sula, which makes reference to violence generated by discrimination. Gender identity and expression of travestis, transgenders and transsexuals are fundamental elements of the exercise of our cultural freedom and self-construction.

In the American hemisphere the atrocities committed have been documented over a decade. Several reports mostly drafted by non governmental organizations highlight the existence of countless extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, tortures and killings as a consequence of the so-called “social cleansing” campaigns or by extermination groups, such as in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador.

However, it should be noted that these identified forms of discriminatory acts and violence are the most evident and extreme kinds of rights violations, those which essentially affect the rights to life and personal integrity.

These are not only limited to physical attacks, police mistreatment, abuse by authorities and hate crimes. Within families and the community, practices of private violence, like forced marriages, submission to stereotypes and gender roles that limit the free development of the personality and sexuality, forced segregation and torture in “rehabilitation” clinics, that often end with suicide.

Violence within the judicial system, manifested by the legal process for sex and name change, implies humiliating clinical exams, forced surgery and mutilation.

Being Afro-descendant, woman, indigenous, youth, migrant, elderly, or living with disability, among other reasons for marginalization, are factors that aggravate violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

We believe it is fundamental that discrimination is combated with appropriate and effective legal instruments that moreover promote a culture of non violence.

In this context we should draw attention to the situation in the eight English-speaking Caribbean countries that still keep in force the so-called “sodomy laws” which are used by the state, security forces and private actors to harass, intimidate and persecute us. These laws which have been consistently classified as human rights violations, create a climate of violence which has been identified by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during their recent visit to Jamaica.

The countless cases of killings, tortures, sexual violence, arbitrary detentions, public humiliations to which travesti, trangender, transsexual, lesbianas, gay, bisexuals and intersex people, as well as sex workers, are daily subjected in Central America and the Caribbean, and particularly in Honduras, perpetuate a context of hate and impunity with complete indifference by the state.

For these reasons, we demand that States, and particularly the government of Honduras, to develop transparent and serious investigations that should take place with full respect for the law, as well as to severely punish those actors that commit felonies covered by impunity and moral values that feed and justify hate and prejudices.

Therefore, we demand:

That the OAS includes gender identity in its program on the right to identity in order to give States the possibility to develop the necessary legal framework to eliminate social exclusion through the legal recognition of trans persons.

That member states of the English-speaking Caribbean repeal laws that criminalize sexual intercourse between consenting adults of the same sex and all other laws that limit the free development of personality or incite to social violence.

That Member states commit to defining national comprehensive policies aimed at implementing good practices in all social, educational and professional contexts and the creation of bodies that monitor the existing situation on human rights violations.

That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc. 4962/09 “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” presented by the Brazilian Delegation, whose initiative we fully endorse.

That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc. 4959/09 “Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance” and that Member States commit themselves to finalize the negotiation of the draft accepting the substantive progress achieved during the past years.

Given this situation of war against our desire, our bodies and our identities, we advocate for a culture of peace.
AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay, C TTT- Claudia Sosa - Honduras, COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD, Julie Betances – República Dominicana, COMUNICACIÓN MUJER, Soledad Varela - Ecuador, CORPORACION OPCION, Diana Navarro - Colombia, ENTRE-TRANSITOS - Camilo Andrés Rojas - Colombia, GREEN CHOP - Kimany Parke - Grenada, HUMANA NACION TRANS-Hazel Gloria Davenport - México, IGLHRC-LAC - Marcelo Ferreyra – Argentina, INSTITUTO RUNA-Belissa Andia – Perú, LIDERES EN ACCION-Germán Rincón - Colombia, MEN UNITED - Keneth Van Emdem - Suriname, MULABI, ESPACIO LATINOAMERICANO EN SEXUALIDADES Y DERECHOS, Marina Bernal, México-Colombia, ORGANIZACIÓN DE TRANSEXUALES POR LA DIGNIDAD Andrés Rivera –Chile, RED AFRO LGBTI - Edmilson Medeiros BRASIL, RED J FLAG - Maurice Tomilson – Jamaica, RED LACTRANS - Marcela Romero- Argentina, RED TRANS Nicaragua - Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua, SASOD- Namela Baynes Henry - Guyana,UNIBAM - Devon Gabourel - Belize, VELVET UNDERGROUND Angela Francis - Trinidad y Tobago

As a Coalition partner: Stefano Fabeni-Global Rights