(Castries, December 1, 2017) As we mark World AIDS Day 2017, we do so with the realisation that the goal of ending new HIV infections and controlling AIDS is within sight. Recent studies confirm a drop in the number of new HIV cases and an increase in diagnosis and treatment. Still, the Caribbean is lagging behind much of the developed world in that regard.
Stigma, discrimination and criminalisation remain some of the biggest barriers to achieving targets to end new HIV infections and end AIDS. HIV infections in Latin America and the Caribbean remain at 120,000 new infections per year and while 64% of people living with HIV in the Caribbean know their status, very few are open about their HIV/AIDS status.
“Framing HIV as a ‘gay disease’ has resulted in more harm than good,” says Executive Director of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE). “As we embark on a new phase of HIV and STI prevention, we must seek to expand access to all available HIV prevention options to all communities in order to reduce the number of new HIV cases and of co-infections in the Caribbean.”
As we mark World AIDS Day 2017, ECADE and our partners across the eastern Caribbean call on our governments to fulfil their responsibility to respect and protect all citizens, particularly the marginalised. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sex workers, the disabled, the elderly are all among the groups made vulnerable by criminalisation, stigma and discrimination. We remind our governments that it is their responsibility to ensure essential services are readily available in a safe, secure and stigma-free environment.
The Caribbean has made notable strides. 45% of LAC countries have adopted a “treat all” policy, six new countries have been certified as having achieved the target for elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Yet gaps exist. Youth remain at high risk, sex work and same-sex behaviour is still criminalised across eastern Caribbean states, intersex and transgender people remain invisible and unserved in the public health sector. Bias continues to be a factor in slowing the response to HIV and sexual transmitted infections.
ECADE commits to strengthening grassroots organisations across the region to continue being visible, continue being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. We further commit to creating opportunities and will do what is necessary to bring about legislative change to decriminalise and increase protections.
Accepting our realities and implementing innovative strategies to address them is a major factor in how quickly our communities surmount challenges such as the AIDS pandemic. As ECADE joins the rest of the world in observing World AIDS Day 2017, we recommit to doing our part to end stigma, end isolation, end HIV transmission.
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Today we take the time to celebrate the advances and acknowledgement of the principles of the Universal Declaration. We also acknowledge how this is being tested in the Eastern Caribbean, especially Saint Lucia. We note that crime, violence and discrimination continues to imperil us all, especially minority populations. This includes the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people or those of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
Today we stand in solidarity with the community in Trinidad as we plead for justice for Sadia in Saint Lucia and Sasha in Trinidad. ANY LIFE lost to violence is unacceptable. We need to continue raising our voice as leaders in human rights advocacy to ask for swift justice, due process, accountable and transparent processes in these cases but most importantly, that justice is served.
On this Human Rights Day, we acknowledge the brave human rights defenders, media and advocates across the Caribbean who give of themselves, who work everyday to improve life for others.
Today, we call on the elected leaders we have voted for and given a mandate, to protect and serve all its citizens, which include LGBTQI citizens. We call on you to take steps to ensure just and sound processing of the many outstanding cases of suspicious death and ensue the public security and justice systems are more effective and efficient.
We celebrate Human Rights Day 2017 with a pledge to continue working toward a fairer, safer and better world for all. We ask every single person to stand up for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
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(Castries, December 10, 2017) Today, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) joins the global family in commemorating Human Rights Day. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every human being and stipulates that every government has a core duty to enable all people to enjoy all their inalienable rights and freedoms.
Since the Universal Declaration in 1948, human rights have been one of the three pillars of the United Nations, along with peace and development. We have a right to LIFE. We have a right to speak freely and participate in decisions about our country and bodies. We have rights to privacy and justice. We have a right to education. We all have a right to live free from all forms of discrimination. We have a right to health care, economic opportunities and a decent standard of living.
The Coalition of LGBTTTI Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean that work within the framework of the OAS,1 composed of the undersigned organizations, commend the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the recognition of the human rights of transgender persons and same-sex couples, as affirmed in its Advisory Opinion 24/17 dated November 24, 2017 and published on January 9, 2018.
With this historic Opinion, the Inter-American Court recognizes that the human rights obligations of States vis-à-vis the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, include the obligation to recognize families composed of same-sex couples and the right to gender identity. This Opinion reinforces the urgent need of States in the region to adopt measures to ensure both formal and substantial equality of persons with non-normative or diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions in the Americas.
The Advisory Opinion of the Court reaffirms what the social organizations of the LGBT movement have been promoting for decades in the countries of the region: that we are rights’ bearers, and that the States owe us the full recognition, guarantee and respect of our rights without discrimination.
We congratulate the Inter-American Court for categorically stating that States must guarantee the right to rectify gender or sex markers, name, and image in official records and/or identity documents, in accordance with individuals’ self-perceived gender identity. In its Opinion, the Court specified the requirements for this process, including that it must be based solely on the free and informed consent of the person requesting the change.
The LGBTTTI Coalition has also published, along with this oress release, a summary of the Advisory Opinion, with the aim of highlighting some of the main standards that have been developed by the Inter-American Court. The Advisory Opinion includes standards that have been advocated by non-governmental organizations that are part of this Coalition for decades in the countries of the region, with varying degrees of success.
An empowered eastern Caribbean that promotes a culture of human rights, equality, justice and respect for all people.
Statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2017
ECADE calls elected leaders to protect and
serve all citizens
Let’s end stigma and end isolation to end HIV
ECADE's World AIDS
We feature members across the eastern Caribbean and secretariat staff
To strengthen regional capacity for the defence and full recognition of human rights through intersectional collaboration, training, network expansion, development of grassroots HRDs and organisations and sensitisation of policy makers, legislators, government and service providers.
Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality