Local groups condemn growing homophobic violence in Caribbean

Red Thread, Help and Shelter, Artistes In Direct Support and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) have joined with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and other  groups to condemn increasing homophobic and transphobic violence in the Caribbean.

A statement from SASOD yesterday said that CVC and its partners are “deeply concerned” by reports coming from Caribbean civil society organizations about incidents of violence towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

“The groups are disturbed by the anti-gay march held by evangelical churches last week in Haiti, and the alleged violence towards LGBT people afterwards. We are truly saddened by reports from Jamaica last week that a gender non-conforming 17-year-old was mob attacked and stabbed to death in Montego Bay. CVC extends it condolences to the families and friends of those affected by this hate-fueled violence”, the statement said.

The statement added that the tragic happenings are not isolated but reflect “systematic discrimination and violence experienced by Caribbean LGBT people, particularly the most visible and vulnerable.”

It said that gay rights organisations in the Caribbean often have to deal with horrific threats, harassment and violence towards their communities because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

“This violence is a consequence of fundamentalist and hateful discourses towards LGBT communities and is likely to be replicated if urgent action is not taken”, the statement declared.

The statement called on faith leaders, trade unions, feminist organizations and civil liberties groups to join in denouncing fundamentalist views which trigger violence towards LGBT people in our region.

“Hate speech and extremism have no place in our Caribbean democracies, where resistance against discrimination, unity, and strength in diversity are hallmarks of our shared history. These hateful views do not reflect the teachings of the region’s religions that variously emphasize respect for diversity, non-violence, justice and unconditional love as their cornerstone values”, the statement added.

It called on Caribbean Governments to provide greater protection for all LGBT people and to implement legal frameworks that guarantee human rights protection.

“Without challenging fundamentalist discourses which undermine dignity and rights, and continuing to foster a culture of human rights, Caribbean States cannot expect to develop, and we as Caribbean citizens cannot expect a better future for our families or children”, the statement contended.

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