Security took precedence this week as Heartland Alliance staged a Security planning Workshop with United Strong in Saint Lucia. The consultation saw Board members, management and staff of the organisation exploring strategies to heighten the security of the physical space, their person and information.
Violence, threats and discrimination directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI) remain prevalent in the Caribbean, a risk that extends to human rights defenders working on LGBTI issues. It is in this context that the workshop is necessary. United and Strong’s Office Manager Adaryl Williams notes, “Security is important because securing ourselves and the organization is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our everyday lives.”
Matthew French of Heartland Alliance conducted the session from the 19 – 23 January 2015, assisted by Ulelli Verbeke from Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). French told participants, “LGBT persons are often times classed as second class citizens and because of this are at huge risk of harm from intentional violence. When you’re working on rights issues that work comes with broader security considerations. A security system is only so strong as its weakest link and if we’re not all on the same page, everything can fall apart.”
Over the several days, the team explored topics that include security terminology, threat assessment, risk assessment and security planning. The sessions also included practical aspects in implementing security plans and resourcing security planning. The consultation drew heavily from participants experiences and was tailored to meet the particular risks faced by United and Strong.