The first general meeting of ECADE, in February 2017 on St. John’s, Antigua, saw attendance by representatives of seventeen (17) organizations.
Most of the individuals were drawn from a planning committee formed at an introductory meeting of ECADE membership in Saint Lucia in November 2016. This meeting was attended by individuals selected by their local organizations.
The Antigua meeting built upon the legal and advocacy strategy workshop held in Grenada in September 2015. Those present discussed the status and development of ECADE as the new regional hub for LGBT rights and advocacy in EC countries and agreed on its governance structure. Participants, which include regional activists and other stakeholders, also discussed and agreed on commitments and recommendation to achieve ECADE's objectives and outcomes, as it seeks to serve the eastern Caribbean LGBTQI+ community.
In 2015 United and Strong sought to give greater attention to meeting the needs of the local LGBTQI community in Saint Lucia. This left a gap to be filled within the region. The formation of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) will address this gap.
ECADE will seek to meet the needs articulated by representatives of LGBTI community at the Grenada meeting. This is inclusive of health and legislative reform, community strengthening and NGO capacity building. The organization was launched with a presence of eighteen (18) member organizations in nine (9) island nations.
ECADE is registered in Saint Lucia (2015) and is recognized by the Ministry of Social Transformation, Local Government, and Community Empowerment.
An incarnation of this regional collaboration in August of 2011 saw a shift in programming from HIV to human rights related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression (SOGIE) and to some extent, intersex status.
Under Executive Director Kenita Placide, United and Strong, in 2011, staged the first regional training for the OECS CHAPs. It went on to implemented at least one regional dialogue or capacity building engagement per year. The organization successfully staged workshops on documentation, capacity building, security sensitization and media advocacy, for civil society and the public sector in the eastern Caribbean. Extending its work as the CariFLAGS EC hub, U&S increased outreach to, and among, LGBTQIorganisations. Notable are the International Dialogue for LGBT Human Rights in 2012 to the 2015 representation at the UPR, 2016 engagement at the CSW and implementation of the Regional Security focal points training. It also increased representation in regional and international spaces such as the Organization of American States (OAS), CARICOM Heads of Government meetings (CHOGM), and the United Nations (UN), and engagement or regional state parties and civil society.
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In 2015, an Eastern Caribbean Litigation, Advocacy and Strategy meeting was convened by United and Strong in Grenada. Present were organizations representing marginalized communities in the eastern Caribbean islands, particularly, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people. At that meeting, activists called for the revamp or creation of a regional hub; now identified as ECADE.
The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), aims to restructure and revitalize regional organizing for LGBTQI advocacy in the small island Caribbean. This strategy has been recognized as an effective means of organizing, given the size and similarity of the populations. ECADE will serve as an independent umbrella organization, inclusive of all small island territories in the eastern Caribbean. Geographically, this will be countries from the Virgin Islands to Grenada.
This builds on the shoulders of the previous network, the Caribbean HIV AIDS Partnership (CHAP). It also draws from efforts by CariFLAGS.
In initial efforts to specifically address the impact of HIV/AIDS on men-sleeping-with-men (MSM) in the small-island Caribbean, a peer-to-peer network was formed by activists in the Eastern Caribbean. This sub-regional network to support and develop advocacy around HIV was subsequently titled the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership (CHAP). This was formalized in May 2003 through the Caribbean regional HIV/AIDS programme of the USAID-funded International HIV/AIDS Alliance. The CHAP worked closely with the Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (CRN+). However, the CHAPs have encountered several barriers including legal restrictions to the registration of groups working with and for LGBTQI communities, discriminatory practices by state officers, financial and skills capacity and a culture of intolerance.
ECADE is an independent umbrella organization, inclusive of organizations in the small island territories in the eastern Caribbean, from the Virgin Islands to Grenada. ECADE works with LGBTIQ and human rights organizations within the EC to strengthen institutional capacity and provide a platform to strategize and work towards equality within the sub-region.
An empowered eastern Caribbean that promotes a culture of human rights, equality, justice and respect for all people.
To strengthen regional capacity for the defense and full recognition of human rights through intersectional collaboration, training, network expansion, development of grassroots HRDs and organizations and sensitization of policymakers, legislators, government and service providers.
At a 2015 Eastern Caribbean Litigation, Advocacy, and Strategy meeting convened in Grenada, activists from organizations in the various islands called for the revamp or creation of a regional hub. Now identified as ECADE, this hub builds on the shoulders of the previous network, the Caribbean HIV AIDS Partnership (CHAP). It also draws from efforts by the wider regional grouping CariFLAGS, to advance collaborative advocacy in the region.
The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality Inc. will rationalize and revitalize regional organizing in the small island Caribbean, building on experiences and lessons learned from previous efforts to develop a similar structure for advocacy in the region.
ECADE has made a commitment to actively engage with human rights organizations in 22 countries across the eastern Caribbean. These organizations are expected to be a direct conduit to and amplify the voice of, the communities they serve.
Organisations representing the LGBTIQ community serve as ECADE’s core membership.
Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality