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From its base in Buenos Aires, Argentina, IGLHRC’s Latin America and Caribbean Program fights for an end to human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and provides support for the sexual rights movement in the region. Many Caribbean countries have laws criminalizing same-sex acts. And while some Latin American countries, including Colombia (1980), Ecuador (1997), Mexico and Chile (1998), Puerto Rico (2004) and Nicaragua (2007), have decriminalized consensual intimacy between same-sex couples, countries such as Argentina still criminalize gender expression. Our staff partners with activists throughout the region to identify and implement strategies that promote sexual rights and to work for the repeal of discriminatory laws.
Our work involves:
• Responding in a crisis
Our staff responds to human rights violations affecting sexual minorities in the region, often issuing action alerts to initiate letter-writing campaigns together with local groups. During the last few years, we have issued action alerts related to the freedom of expression in Bolivia, the right to be free from discrimination in Argentina, and the right to gender expression in Honduras, among many others. We have also prepared documents and amicus briefs on behalf of sexual minorities involved in cases before national and international courts, supporting Asociacion de Lucha por la Identidad Transgenero Travesti y Transexuals (ALITTT) in its attempts to win legal recognition in Argentina, and also Chilean Judge Karen Attala’s child custody case before the Interamerican Human Rights Commission.
• Conducting research and documenting human rights abuses
Working in conjunction with local groups and international organizations, we have published reports on sexual rights violations in Chile, Costa Rica, Barbados, and Honduras. These reports have been submitted to various UN committees for review, complementing the official information provided by these countries’ governments. In 2007, we also published Sexual Rights in a Fundamentalist Context. This collaborative publication with Catholics for a Free Choice-Cordoba was inspired by the “Your Voice is Fundamental against Fundamentalisms" campaign, originally launched at the 2003 World Forum. The publication compiles a variety of reflections on the debates that took place on religious fundamentalism and sexual rights in Quito, Ecuador during the first Americas Social Forum in July 2004 and in Porto Alegre, Brazil during the World Social Forum in January 2005.
• Pursuing structural and institutional change
Our Latin America and the Caribbean program works to change laws, attitudes and perceptions. Our staff recently spearheaded a process that culminated when the human rights committee of the Southern Common Market—a regional trade and integration agreement—issued a declaration to end discrimination against sexual and gender minorities. If the entire Southern Common Market passes this resolution, it will result in a major shift toward legal equality for sexual minorities throughout the region. Our staff also works on the Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, and participates at the World Social Forum—always in partnership with a variety of colleagues from the women’s rights, sexual rights, labor and human rights movements, among others.
• Providing training, capacity building, and political space for strategizing
Our staff conducts human rights training sessions to strengthen the capacity of local groups and individual activists who fight for sexual rights and document violations. Our Latin American Human Rights Advocacy Institute originated in 2005 as a two-week training session for emerging leaders in the field of transgender and intersex rights. In May 2007, we convened our second Institute, this time in San José, Costa Rica, designed specifically for lesbian and bisexual women leaders from Central America and the Caribbean. In November 2008, we partnered with Catholics for a Free Choice to hold our third Institute, gathering 25 activists for two weeks of strategizing to address religious fundamentalism and its impact on sexual minorities and women in Latin America.