International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is observed on May 17 internationally. It aims to coordinate events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and work worldwide. The 2016 celebration is being held under the theme “Mental Health and Well Being
The main purpose of the May 17 mobilization is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide. This in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.
United and Strong Inc the only LGBT organization in Saint Lucia will join the rest of the world and other activists in the region to highlight the various psychological and related issues faced by LGBT persons. The recently held Caribbean Men’s Dialogue in Dominica from April 18-21st brought forth the myriad of issues faced by Caribbean men along with possible strategies to curb the social stigma and discrimination.
IDAHOT celebrations in Saint Lucia will be launched with the posting of a documentary developed under the What’s Your Position Project supported by UNDP – Social Innovation for Change Project. The film dubbed “Acceptance”will highlight the various forms of social stigma and discrimination experienced by an LGBT individual and will be posted on various social media platforms of United and Strong Inc.
The documentary will also explore the many psychological challenges faced by the individual and the paths explored to acceptance and working through the various challenges at work and in her personal life.
Celebrations will continue into the month of June and will feature a number of panel discussions and debate involving stakeholders along with members of the LGBT community. A major part of IDAHOT celebration is an opportunity for the community to celebrate their diversity with a Pride Stand. The activity will feature LGBT allies and United & Strong members coming together to silently highlight the forms of social stigma and discrimination.
Saint Lucia as a small Caribbean nation has an important role to play in fighting for the basic human rights of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The struggle to end discrimination against LGBT persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the organisation’s commitment to promoting human rights.
In Bangladesh, two LGBT rights activists, including the editor of Roopbaan, the country’s first LGBT magazine, were hacked to death this morning in a flat in the country’s capital, Dhaka. The deceased are Roopbaan editor Xulhaz Mannan, 35, and his friend, Tonoy Mojumdar, also an LGBT rights activist. Bangladeshi LGBT rights activists expressed shock and […]
The high rates of HIV infection along with the large percentage of men enrolled in HIV treatment and care in Saint Lucia and other OECS islands, have certainly been a concern for United and Strong Inc (Saint Lucia) and DomCHAP out of Dominica.
These two partners believe that the absence of an enabling and supportive environment often drives key populations such as members of the GBT community underground. This translate into a disconnect from social support and other important resources that could help improve their general health opportunities and quality of life. This ultimately formed the basis for this inaugural Caribbean Men’s Dialogue 2016, taking place in Roseau Dominica from April 18-21st 2016.
With varying levels of resources available for HIV and AIDS programming and health system capacity across the different countries in the Caribbean, the region faces an array of challenges to not only sustain but to scale up their national HIV and AIDS responses. The challenge implied by a 90-90-90 scale up scenario, as well as decreasing funding levels and/or shifts in funding priorities among international donors, requires countries, and the region as a whole to carefully examine programmatic priorities to determine the most efficient way to achieve impact.
In light of such the Caribbean Men’s Dialogue will endeavor to:
Create a forum for in depth dialogue on sexual diversity, health and human rights issues.
Identify strategies to help surmount the main challenges of key population advocacy in the OECS.
Strengthen Regional key population groups and individuals partnerships and collaboration towards stronger regional key population networks, thereby contributing a more valuable voice to the global effort.
Examine strategies for engaging other sectors and movement with a view to informing a more positive narrative. Engaging the media is one area that may prove useful and it may be interesting to hear the view of the participants in this regards.
Scale up HIV prevention and treatment strategies for key population within the OECS, and convene dialogue on the status of key population behavioral health and promotion in the OECS territories.
In addition to the development of a strategic plan to enhance interventions among GBT men within the OECS on the heels of the OECS GFATM Project , participants hope to get consensus on a Caribbean Men’s declaration position paper to be presented by its representatives at the UNAIDS 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS taking place in New York from June 8-10 2016.
United and Strong Inc fully embraces the belief that people are more likely to hear and personalize messages, and thus change their attitudes and behaviors, if they believe the messenger is similar to them and faces the same concerns and pressures. Hence the utilization of peer education continues to be a major service offered not only to members but other populations in Saint Lucia.
Realizing the success of the first cohort of peer educators trained with the collaboration of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities and MAC AIDS FUND, these partners have decided to foster the training of another cadre of educators. The increased in the number of trained personnel provides the opportunity for United and Strong Inc to make true its theme for 2016 “Expanding community response, through dignity, love, respect, protection and equality for all”
This training being conducted by master JHPIEGO trainer Patricia Joseph, will see an additional 10 young educators. The second phase will also include a new component to improve the quality of service delivered by the educators and will factor in Productivity Enhancement Training which will be conducted by the Advocacy Officer of United and Strong Inc, Bennet Charles.
The new cohort of educators are indeed elated to have been selected to not only receive this level of training but to be part of the national response toward influencing behavior change among Saint Lucians while fostering personal growth and development. According to one educator “this is a major opportunity to work with other partners in Saint Lucia and expand the reach of our services”
The impact of HIV & AIDS along with other STIs among marginalized youth and other vulnerabilized population especially males will continue to increase if interventions are not target specific. This new cadre of educators further positions United and Strong Inc as an organization critical in ensuring that Saint Lucia can achieve the 90-90-90 targets set by the international community.
(Geneva, March 18, 2016) “We remind the Government (of Saint Lucia) that human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and we therefore urge the Government, to repeal laws that criminalise persons based on their gender Identity or sexual orientation and affirm the rights of LGBTI persons.” So ends the statement to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council from United and Strong Inc and Sexual Rights Initiative.
The statement on the occasion of the Universal Periodic Review Outcomes for Saint Lucia, called on government to fulfil it’s international obligations, especially as it relates to the full recognition of the rights of all citizens .
UnS also contributed to a statement during the discussion on outcomes for St Kitts and Nevis, collaborating with Saint Kitts Alliance for Equality, and CariFLAGS. The statement urged the government to “recognise a popular mandate is not needed to ensure security, justice and equality for all, in particular its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and disabilities communities.”
Fontenelle will present on two panels, the first on Thursday, March 17. “Caribbean Women’s Empowerment: Sustainable development gaps and opportunities for all” is presented by Caribbean Sisters in Unity Core Group (CSUCG). It features Kenita Placide, representative of ILGA Women’s Secretariat and former Executive Director of United and Strong, Louise Toby Finikin (Sistren Jamaica), Shirley Pryce (Jamaica Household’s Union), Joy Hewett,Delores Robinson (GROOT TT) and Angela Clarke.
“The NGO CSW 60 Forum is a place for women activists to gather to speak and learn from each other and to advocate,” notes Dr. Susan O‘Malley, Chair, NGO CSW/NY. She further notes, “The Empowerment of Women and Its Link to the SDGs, the Priority Theme for CSW 60, ushers in a new day for Women and Civil Society… We need to unite and use the openings to civil society in the Working Methods Document to strengthen our voice and our effectiveness in both addressing violence against women and implementing the SDGs at a regional level.
The second panel on which Fontenelle will speak “Diverse Women’s Empowerment to Increase Inclusion in Development“, will focus more directly on issues affecting lesbian, bisexual, queer, intersex and transgender women in the Caribbean, Pacific, Africa and Asia. This panel will be held on March 21. The panel also features Miki Wali of femLINKPACIFIC, Monica Tabengwa, Latoya Nugent of WE-Change, Mikee Nunez-Into of Lingnan University (Guangzhou) with Kenita Placide of ECADE, moderated by OutRight Action International‘s Jessica Stern.
Civil society representatives will also utilise the space to interact with state representatives, policy makers and partners and strategise on women’s rights advocacy.
Those working in the field of HIV, from policy makers to programmers, and national governments to community-based organisations, operate within the framework of global HIV targets. United and Strong Inc and other national stakeholders have also embraced the targets of 90-90-90 which are the geared to ending the HIV epidemic by 2030.
The first 90 target represents those living with HIV would know their status, this is certainly achieved by stepping up the availability of HIV testing nationally. Valentine’s Day 2016 provided the opportunity for United and Strong Inc to continue it’s collaborative relationship with other national partners through two HIV Rapid Testing Outreach sites leading up to Valentine’s Day on 14th February 2016.
United and Strong Valentine’s Day testing outreach rest on the belief that nothing says “I love you” like knowing and sharing your status with your significant other or any other special person in your life. Hence if you really wanted to impress your date this Valentine’s Day, protect their health — and yours — by getting tested. Therefor the continued HIV Rapid Testing outreach in the community of Soufriere on Saturday 13th February 2016. This activity was initiated by a young man, Luigi Edgar after reaching out to United and Strong and seeing the need to step up the presence of testing in his community and a way of showing love during the Valentine’s Day celebration.
While HIV has become one of the most critical issues of our time,United and Strong Inc continues to be a very effective space for reaching women and men with HIV services. This is essential because many people living with HIV are unaware of their status and show no symptoms. Therefore we will continue to expand our reach through such activities to facilitate the process of Saint Lucia meeting the 90-90-90 targets
Love is not limited to Valentine’s Day. Similarly, this message is not limited to February 14. We can love and live in great health at the same time, if we love smartly. Get Tested..For You..For Us!!
United and Strong Inc Saint Lucia and DomCHAP of Dominica invites applications from Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Men from the O.E.C.S. to attend the the first ever O.E.C.S. Key Population Men’s Dialogue which will be held In Dominica on April 18th-21st,2016, under the theme “Beyond Where We Are”, It’s our turn to make a difference for what matters.
The goals of the OECS Key Populations Dialogue will endeavor to:
Create a forum for discussions on sexual diversity, health and human rights issues.
Identify strategies to help surmount the main challenges of key population advocacy in the OECS.
Build capacity and strengthen regional key population groups and individuals towards stronger regional Key Population networks.
Scale up HIV prevention and treatment strategies for key populations within the OECS, and convene dialogue on the status of key population behavioral health and promotion in the OECS territories.
Local and Regional expertise will be used to facilitate the 2016 Men’s dialogue and will focus on the following areas.
Health and Security
Addressing Key Population, Physical, Mental and Psycho social Health.
Personal Safety/ Safe Spaces for Community Interaction and Growth.
Adressing Human Rights issues for Key Population within the HIV context.
Socio-Cultural Stigma and Discrimination
What does investing in communities look like.
Capacity Building/ Effective Community Mobilization towards a regional key population specific response.
Modeling and sustaining Community Based HIV interventions for Key Populations.
The Panel Discussion will be working towards a common OECS Key Population in post 2016 outcome: consensus statement from panel discussions on moving past the Men’s Dialogue 2016.
The conference will end with the hope of establishing a more unified O.E.C.S. key population partnership to foster effective communication and advocacy mechanism.
Application deadline for scholarships to attend the 2016 Dialogue will be February 20th, 2016
The date has been set for the 7th regional conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin America and the Caribbean. ILGA-LAC VII will be hosted in Saint Lucia by United and Strong Inc and CariFLAGS from August 1 – 4, 2016.
(Castries, December 9, 2015) Youth activists in Saint Lucia will this year launch a new campaign to mark International Human Rights Day, observed annually on the December 10th. The campaign dubbed, “What’s your position?” also seeks to raise awareness of the16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence from November 25th to December 10th. Conceptualised and executed by United and Strong Inc.’s Unity and Empowerment for Change (UE4C) youth group, the campaign is funded by UNDP Barbados and the OECS and developed under the Social Innovation for Change programme, which presents an opportunity to engage with youth as agents of change in making that shift from national to citizen security.
“What’s your position?” celebrates our differences as individuals, in keeping with the recognition of these important days to raise public awareness and mobilise people everywhere to bring about change. It will utilise social media and community based interventions to share the real life experiences of persons who have been exposed to discrimination and gender based violence.
A major activity under the project will be the screening of a film dubbed “Acceptance”. This film demonstrates the real, tragic and triumphant, experiences of an LGBT person as a survivor of gender based violence and discrimination within her work place. Not to be dismissed as only a movie nor to exploit shock value, the film advocates the truth of this issue, to encourage self-reflection and motivate us to action, asking the question, “What’s Your Position?”.
The release of the film is set to coincide with UN-Women’s Step It Up to End Violence Against Women and Girls Film Festival. Saint Lucia is doing its part by stepping up to engage allies and community members on December 11 at the very first screening of the mini documentary “Acceptance”.
United and Strong has been a change agent locally, nationally and regionally with the goal of equality and justice for all, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people. This Human Rights Day, U&S and UE4C urge everyone to look at the humanity of all, to remember that the rights afforded for oneself should be afforded to one’s neighbour and also to the stranger across the road. As we celebrate the milestone of fifteen years of existence under the theme “Year of the Community: Education, Acceptance, Love”, we are reminded that human rights are not for some but are for all.
Background Information Continue reading United and Strong asks “What’s your position?” on Human Rights Day→