Far too often young people in the Caribbean become victims of harassment and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. UN specialists have indicated a higher incidence of depression, academic failure and sucide among young LGBTI persons who are victims of intolerance. Ignorance of the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation in addition to stereotyping of male and female behaviour often result in ostracism and abuse of young adults by teachers, leaders, family members and their peers. In countries like Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago discrimination ends in violence and murder.
Caribbean states have in most cases taken little or no action to protect LGBTI persons rather put more radical laws in place that punish same sex relations with life imprisonment. Some victims of abuse have reported that police will not document threats or assault. They often ridicule and also meter out some form of violence against the victims. Family members have been known to force their children to undergo ‘exorcisms’ , marriages without consent, corrective rape and other rituals of conversion which according to the United Nations Secretary-General are tantamount to torture. Parents or relatives often throw out LGBTI on to the streets to live.
While some find the determination and support to go on and others end up hungry, homeless often living under bridges or in run down shacks and become victims of illicit drug traffickers and adults who exploit them for sex and/or cheap labour.
UN Representative assigned to lead the UN's Free and Equal campaignunfe.org
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: We cannot tolerate picking and choosing rights in a modern society – a society where diversity is celebrated; a society where everyone, no matter where they live or whom they love, is able to live in peace and security; a society where everyone can contribute to the health and well-being of their community
UN Secretary-General (2007-2016)
Civil society based organisations like CAISO, SASOD, The Silver Lining and others continue to advocate for legislative reform to recognise and include LGBTI persons under the social security blanket. Other initiatives include presentations to youth about bullying in schools and a safe space for victims of abuse.
A number of western missions like the European Union, Australia and United Kingdom have also taken positive steps to fund human rights based projects including LGBTI rights. USA and Canada continue to monitor and report on human rights development. One of the most positive developments in Trinidad and some other countries is the voice of everyday people, who take to social media platforms to support their friends or relatives who are LGBTI. Families are slowly coming out of the woodwork to speak up against discrimination and hate.
What is the UN response ?
United Nations in the Caribbean is cross cutting but yet a cohesive response to delivering on the agenda of equal rights and dignity for LGBTI people:
Outreach: UN reaches out to communities and organisations for meaningful partnerships to educate , share knowledge and encourage open dialogue.
Advocacy: has been working with a number of partners in civil society to advance the cause of equal right and dignity for all persons and to build momentum for positive action
Funding : Some UN offices provide special funding for projects that advance human rights and development from an inclusive point of view
Technical: Specialised UN offices provide technical advise and support for governments and state bodies to facilitate policy development and inclusive practices and reporting on human rights delivery.
Academic: UN knowledge centres and libraries across the regions are legitimate sources of information about LGBTI people, their rights and other related issues.
Training: UN agencies and offices provide training for media; state officials and departments on acceptable standards and benchmarks for equality, respect and dignity.
[toggle state="closed" title=More information:"]2016 Joint United Nations Latin America and Caribbean Statement on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
The Resident Coordinator’s office in Trinidad and Tobago, early 2016 hosted an webinar/dialogue on LGBTI rights;
In 2014 UNIADS and partners conducted surveys on MSM and continued in 2016 to push for ending stigma
UNFPA continues to provide guidance and advocacy for rights of sex workers and support for men who have sex with men.
UNIC continues with Human Rights education, promotion of the Free and Equal global campaign; engaged and encouraged dialogue during 2016 Model United Nations training session;
High Commissioner for Human Rights office provides assistance to victims of abuse and technical support for the government.
High commissioner for Refugees includes in its work the rights of LGBTI refugees and assylum seekers[/toggle]
- ILO Director-General calls for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, saying it is “a factor leading to violence and harassment in the world of work."
- UNFPA - Statement for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia 2018
- UN ‘Free & Equal’ campaign launches video spotlighting LGBT diversity, fight against homophobia