U&S Engages Government Officials at the OAS

Saint Lucia’s ambassador, permanent representative to the OAS, H.E. Sonia Johnny met with a representative of United and Strong at the 44th General Assembly of the Organization of American States. U&S ED Adaryl Williams, who attended the session in Paraguay says, “Our main purpose was to participate in the general assembly as a continued means of advocacy. The OAS is a place where member states congregate to bring forward draft resolutions before the commission on issues affecting their country. This space offered the opportunity to meet with delegates from our country to dialogue on signing and ratifying the resolution brought forward by the delegation from Brazil on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.”

Saint Lucia’s Minister of External Affairs, Alva Baptiste, was among attendees at the June 3-5 assembly and U&S along with other LGBTI organisations from the English speaking Caribbean, took the opportunity to engage him informally around these issues.

Williams says, “We advocated to the Inter-American  Commission  on  Human Rights (IACHR) to pay particular attention to its work plan tittle ‘Rights of LGBTTI People’ and in keeping with its established practice on preparing a hemispheric study on the subject. We called on our governments to review existing legislation in member states of the OAS and in particular the Caribbean, that restrict the human rights of individuals by reason of their perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We aimed at promoting the decriminalization of homosexuality and practices related to gender identity or expressions.”

The three-day activity ended with most countries from Latin America supporting the resolution and the English speaking Caribbean putting in footnotes, with the exception of Belize and Antigua. The reason given by majority was that the islands do not relate to the SOGI language i.e LGBTI.

United and Strong intends to continue to engage in conversations with our governments on the subject locally and in similar fora.

Photo Captions:

1-      Commissioner Tracy Robinson,President of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and Rapporteur for the Rights of the LGBTTI Persons

2-      Ambassador Sonia Johnny, member of St.Lucia’s delegates at the 44th OAS General assembly in Asuncion, Paraguay

3-      Team of activists from the English-speaking Caribbean outside the Conmebol Center, home of the 44th General assembly

4-      Ambassador Johnny representing St. Lucia at the Commission’s hearing on the draft resolution on Human Rights, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions

5-      U&S Co-Executive Director at the LGBTTI caucus, strengthening the advocacy tactics

6-      Day two of planning

7-      Working through lunch

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