Saint Lucia’s United and Strong is among international organisations at the United Nations this week to mark Human Rights Day on December 10. Co-Executive Director Kenita Placide will discuss the situation of Saint Lucia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) people in a series of meetings in New York from December 8-11, 2013, organised by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Coalition (IGLHRC).
Placide who also represents the Caribbean Forum for the Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) and the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) states, “The international dialogue has begun and is continuing in celebration of this Human Rights Day. We are strengthening the foundation for advocacy on human rights and laws. We hope individuals and civil society organisations will claim their rights, and that lawmakers and officials responsible for criminal justice, law enforcement, health (including HIV/AIDS) and donors will allow advocates and those affected to inform the development and implementation of effective and humane policy.”
Placide is attending meetings with representatives of several nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, European Union states such as Norway and Belgium and Trinidad & Tobago.
United and Strong is making representation to UN Women, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Truth and Memory Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as well.
Placide will also represent United & Strong at a major discussion with the theme ‘Sports Comes Out Against Homophobia’. The panel includes human rights experts as well as former and current sports stars including High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, tennis legend Martina Navratilova and NBA basketball player Jason Collins.
The United Nations, to which Saint Lucia is party, adopted the International Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and Placide stresses the importance of joining an international call for human rights and justice for all. She states, “The protection of human rights requires a constant effort to extend and update the country’s legislative and policy initiatives in areas such as gender inequality, the criminalisation of buggery and all types of discrimination. Our government has an obligation to educate and raise awareness on these issues. The nation needs to understand our collective responsibility to end these human rights violations.”
As the national organization which represents Saint Lucian lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and intersex people, United and Strong is particularly concerned about the fundamental rights and freedoms not contained in our constitution. The organization expressed its concern in a submission to the constitution reform commission in 2009, with sexual orientation and gender identity as newly introduced grounds for non-discrimination.
“The constitution has enshrined within it the principles of equality and non-discrimination of all persons; however this is not the reality,” notes Placide. “We call on the government to honour recommendations accepted at the Univerisal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2011 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to sign and ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the commitment to continue sensitizing and educating the general public alongside civil society organisations such as United and Strong, in order to change societal mores which discriminates against LGBTI persons.”
A country with a legal environment that promotes and protects the human rights of all can achieve tremendous progress.
As we mark International Human Rights Day, United and Strong Inc pays tribute to all human rights defenders, advocates and activists. “It is our great pleasure to salute all my comrades who stand in the fight against injustice and in equalities,'” states Placide. “We are encouraged by the action that has already been catalyzed by the OAS, IACHR, and the voices in the wilderness and those in the bushes. Today’s celebrations belong to all of US because we all have rights; EQUALLY.
Photos: Placide with T&T Ambassador Rodney Charles and with a delegation at the UK Mission in NYC.