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LGBT YouTh from around The CariBBean speak ouT

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ConTenTs 4

A New Generation Gathers


The Spirit of a New Generation


The Call of a New Generation


The Birth of a New Generation


The Coalition of a New Generation


Voices of a New Generation


The Future of a New Generation

a new GeneraTion GaThers “Generation Change is an absolute necessity.” In June 2014, young women and men from across the Caribbean gathered in Trinidad and Tobago. They had a simple message for their political leaders and for the people of the region. The new generation of Caribbean citizens demands change. They wanted to live in a society that is free from discrimination and intolerance. The future, they said, was theirs and they should not have to live with the prejudice and injustice imposed by earlier generations. With contributions from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana and Belize they spoke with one voice. It was time for the Caribbean of legal and social discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) individuals should be consigned to the past. Opening proceedings, Jeremy Steffan Edwards of the Silver Lining Foundation said they echoed the voices of thousands of people across the Caribbean and the region. He said in many countries being anything other than a heterosexual meant being condemned and criminalized. There were examples of murders of LGBT people, violence and discrimination in many forms. “Generation Change is an absolute necessity,” he said. And his message to young LGBT citizens was: “Know that you are not alone. Generation Change says we exist and we want justice, recognition, equality and inclusion. And he recalled the Cuban proverb: “When the sun rises, it rises for everyone.”

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The spiriT of a new GeneraTion The spirit of Generation Change was expressed in speeches, in poetry, in drama and in song.

Donnya Piggott from Barbados recited her own poem, part of which read:

If I digress it's not intentional But the love I possess is not conventional But I think I found it And I intend to put my life and heart and soul around it And If I had a trumpet Then I wish I could o' sound it Saying that this love is real and happiness surrounds it But even love at its best can only manifest When it's put to the test So if we give more love We will not be love-less ‌ For a love that will never seem to be born And their hearts are all torn But we cover it up with hope but this hope is now worn But a day will come where the whole world will rejoice, Not by change or by luck or my status or by choice But we will rise as a people above the social noise So that every last one can hear loves voice.

Donnya Piggot 5 | Generation Change 5 | Generation Change

The CaLL of a new GeneraTion Young people from across the Caribbean assembled in Port of Spain to call upon regional leaders to deliver their promises for equality and inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in their countries. Generation Change advocates against the inequalities in the societal, cultural and political systems. The movement is determined to expose the inconsistencies in these systems, which have been endorsed over the years, but have not been amended to include an unrecognized population: the LGBT community.

LGBT persons exist in all spheres of society; they are doctors, lawyers, teachers, colleagues and friends. It may be safe to assume that society has approved of their valuable input. However, this value is impeded by the restrictions levied against them by society itself. LGBT persons are unable to express themselves freely in carrying out these societal duties, hindering their belief in equality and recognition. Additionally, persons in the LGBT community are excluded from the holistic culture of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is known for a vast array of diverse and unique cultures, which is both warm and embracing. However, the lack of acceptance of LGBT persons within the Caribbean region shows a push towards discrimination, disunity and hatred. By demonstrating a culture of hatred, the Caribbean is showing the world that it is not warm and inviting, it is not safe and free; it is not a culture of love and acceptance.

of a stick. While seeking the support of the people of the Caribbean, political

often weighed on a political scale, undervaluing the LGBT community as conveniently non-existent.

The BirTh of a new GeneraTion Generation Change was created on the basis of power in numbers. Several organizations have been working independently across the Caribbean for a number of years, advocating for similar LGBT issues. Due to the futility in discussing these issues in isolation, a collective body working towards the common cause of as a grave necessity. There were various groups of motivated, Caribbean LGBT advocates, working in isolation, and struggling to be heard. Generation Change became this collective body, the numbers holding the power. The following organizations comprise its members: • The Silver Lining Foundation (SLF). Trinidad and Tobago. • Caribbean American Domestic Violence Awareness (CADVA). Guyana. • Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD) • United Belize Advocacy Movement (UniBAM) • United and Strong. St. Lucia. 6 | Generation Change

The CoaLiTion of a new GeneraTion The Caribbean is known for its music, people and cultures. The region has also gained international notoriety for the pervasiveness of anti-gay attitudes and laws in the last few years. There are twelve Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and eleven of them have laws which prohibit same-sex intimacy. Guyana prescribes the harshest punishment in the region with up to life imprisonment for the “crime” of buggery between consenting adults. Jamaica, the third largest island in the region, has attracted the most attention in the last decade because the number of homophobic incidents perpetrated against LGBT. In addition, there are many reggae and dancehall songs that have either explicitly or subtly promoted discrimination and/or violence against LGBT people. Trinidad & Tobago has recently come under much scrutiny as a result of a law that is now the subject of a court case in the Caribbean Court of Justice, which restricts entry of homosexuals into the country. Key opinion leaders are coming out in support of LGBT rights. There are several court challenges to advance the rights of LGBT people. Across the region the younger generation is very impatient for the reform process to start as their futures depend on it. Sexuality-based discrimination continues to be commonplace in many parts of the region and impacts on LGBT people, the various institutions within society. Laws often do not protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many LGBT people have been forced to seek asylum as a consequence of the discrimination and violence commonly meted out to them.1 2

BarBados Barbados is the only Commonwealth Caribbean country that recognizes the binding jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which condemn sexual orientation-based discrimination.3 In August 2013, Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart at the opening of the Anglican Church Province of the West Indies Provincial Congress said, “whether homosexual behavior derived from nature or from nurture, it does not lie without our competence to sit in seats of judgement and to condemn those who pursue that practice.”4 In December 2013, Mr. Stuart responded to a letter from Generation Change founding member, Donnya Piggott of B-GLAD, and said: “Barbados remains committed to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and will continue, therefore, to lend its voice to calls both in regional and international fora for the elimination of all forms of discrimination including discrimination against persons of differing sexual orientation”.5 Yet, while there is an annual trans show, “Queens of Queens”, in Barbados and the country enjoys a certain level of tolerance for LGBT individuals, policymakers

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Periodic Review again recommended that they repeal anti-gay laws but to date no response has been forthcoming.6

JamaiCa In April 2011, the Jamaican government passed the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom. Despite calls to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for non-discrimination it did not.7 The current Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller (as Opposition Leader) during the 2011 General Elections said that LGBT people should not be discriminated against.8 However, in May 2013, the Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites said the “Government lifts up to our children the ideal of faithful love and marriage between a man and a woman as the basis of a family, even as we insist on tolerance and love for those who are disposed towards homosexuality […] we will not be grooming children towards same-sex unions.”9 In January 2013, J-FLAG, one of the oldest LGBT organizations operating in Jamaica, noted that despite the continued discrimination and violence perpetrated against LGBT people, there is progress in the country.10 For example, in November 2012 the University of Technology (UTech) responded to the savage beating of a male student allegedly found in a compromising position with another man by seeking to address anti-gay attitudes and violence.11 They seek to do so by improving relations with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and called on the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson to amend the buggery act.12 But when the human rights lawyer, Maurice Tomlinson (of AIDS Free World) Corporation (PBCJ) and CVM for their refusal to air an advertisement promoting the humanity of LGBT people, it was rejected.13 Maurice Tomlinson has also sewers because they have no other accommodation.14

BeLiZe The Belizean government has launched a National Gender Policy to promote the empowerment of all peoples, particularly women and girls. In September 2010, the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) and Caleb Orozco, its and the Government of Belize aimed at overturning the provisions of Section 53 of the Criminal code.15 In April 2012, UNIBAM was stuck out as a litigant in the case.16 At the time of writing no judgement was been handed down. In July 2013, a report by the South Poverty Law Centre on the involvement of the US religious groups in campaigning against equal rights in Belize showed how they had sought to “demonize” LGBT people to hold back law reform.17

GuYana In Guyana, in April 2012, the government established a Joint Select Committee to facilitate a national consultation around repealing the law criminalizing samesex intimacy with penalties up to life in prison.18 The Guyana Equality Forum, a collective of justice related organizations, has prepared a submission to the parliamentary committee in this regard.19 In February 2010, the Society Against

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(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction) (Offences) Act, Chapter 8:02, invalidated. The Act makes an offence of “being a man, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in female attire, or being a woman, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose appears in male attire.”20 In September 2013, Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that men can cross-dress (i.e. 21

sT. LuCia Christian fundamentalist groups in St. Lucia – as elsewhere in the region – continue to lead anti-gay movements to block efforts by human rights defenders to advance the rights of LGBT citizens. In July 2013, the Caribbean Centre for Family and Human Rights (CARIFAM) published a letter in The Voice outlining ten reasons why the government should not decriminalize buggery.22

Prime Minister and Minister of Education around the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO.)23 In August 2013, United & Strong joined with AIDS Free World, an HIV/AIDS organization based in New York, to host an in partnership with AIDS Free World and CariFLAGS (Caribbean Foundation for Liberation of All Genders and Sexualities), a human rights violation documentation training for human rights defenders in the Eastern Caribbean. United & Strong has compiled anecdotal evidence indicating a high level of youth displacement from family homes, bullying, violence and marginalisation. LGBT youth face heightened levels of discrimination when seeking employment, securing adequate housing or getting proper medical treatment or services.

Trinidad and ToBaGo Prime Minister Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bisessar wrote a letter in 2012 saying she wanted the forthcoming National Gender Policy to “forge the way forward for Trinidad and Tobago as my government seeks to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation”.24 In May 2013, the Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Marlene Coudray, announced that gay rights were not a part of the gender policy which was before Cabinet, nor were they likely to be. She indicated that this decision was not hers, but the unanimous wish of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), which represents 25 different religious organisations, and a large number of other faith-based organizations.25 On the plus side, the Data Protection Act, passed in 2011, which sought to right to maintain sensitive personal information as private and personal” was to LGBT communities in Trinidad & Tobago because it provides heightened

their consensual sexual affairs and their sexual lives protected from unwarranted intrusion and protecting them from discrimination based on their sexuality.26 The that recognizes sexual orientation and related rights in the history of Trinidad & Act 1986, which punishes sodomy with up to 25 years in prison.27 Homosexuals are also legally barred from entering the country under the immigration laws.28 These are subject to a legal challenge from Maurice Tomlinson, a gay rights activist from Jamaica.29 9 | Generation Change

VoiCes of The new GeneraTion BarBados - donnya pigott is less blatant here. However Gays here often endure a gaze that makes life uncomfortable as they dare to be themselves. I have endured that gaze on not hard to imagine that life would be easier without that “gaze� however I recognize my privilege in not having to face the harsh realities of homophobia

As pockets of tolerance for LGBT people expand and increase around the region, we must remain committed to advocating against the structures that job, when one may not be able to access healthcare, and when too many end up dead because of their sexual orientation. To advance the cause we us back accountable. The road to recognition and deep inclusion is long but the alternative is devastating. Unnamed, 24-year-old gay man LGBT life in Barbados is best described as subtle oppression. We are thankful that we are not often physically attacked in public, although a few incidences have occurred. The major problems facing the community in Barbados are abandonment, unemployment and rejection which then lead to homelessness, prostitution, drug use and depression. Within the family unit many young LGBT men and women are left Many of them are put out of their homes because of their sexual orientation or in most cases because of their refusal to conform with gender norms i.e. their dress and behavior. Additionally, transgendered persons or gender of education; this makes them more vulnerable to discrimination as they are in many cases unable to support themselves. Constant rejection and verbal abuse within the family unit and schools are also of major concern and leads to depression and a very low self worth. Many LGBT youth have left Barbados on to Canada where they feel more comfortable being themselves.

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and have been working and putting myself through University. Because of the of time as I could not afford rent and school at the same time. Thankfully this is not the case now. However, many LGBT youth do not have a high level of education and have found themselves engaging in deviant or risky behavior in order to make it through.

BarBados - alex dV hoffman As a Transgender woman living in Barbados, I always have this to say for

day. I have faced numerous cases where prospective employers gave me odd looks when they saw my credentials. One woman kept staring back

photo taken three years previously or appear totally opposite to what was

them, after which oftentimes a compliance authority has to be called (as

the existence and realities of Trans persons, and so they are never prepared nor do they have any policies in place for protocol. Where society is concerned, things tend to get ugly. In recent weeks, I have faced situations where my photo was taken (under the assumption that I was unaware of it) and posted on the internet, with captions and descriptions intending to “expose� me as a biological male. On some of these posts, threats are made by persons, expressing intentions to shoot, burn, or run me over with a vehicle if I were ever seen again (sure enough, if a moving vehicle is near me, some persons do urge the driver to attempt to hit me with the vehicle. Fortunately to date, no such incident has taken place.)

JamaiCa - Javan Campbell The LGBT community in Jamaica faces high levels of stigma and discrimination from the society. In my earlier years in High School, I faced high levels of verbal abuse and sometimes attempted physical abuse due to my perceived sexual orientation. At one point it started to affect my grades as I struggled with high internal stigma. I had no one to trust and share my feelings with openly. Notwithstanding all this I pushed on and made it through. There were several other young men who were more effeminate than I was that did not fair so well and either left or did very poorly in their studies. Sections of the media and the church (religion) also relate sentiments that the LGBT community. I have had to not attend church much if at all as they

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and sensationalism to make money. In several communities, one has to be careful as the threat of mob violence is always a real one. If the community hears or suspect you are gay, you may very well be hunted down to be removed and perhaps even killed. I have faced discrimination on several justice. Care and safety especially for the members of the LGBT community is always a high concern. There seems to be no real justice and equality for LGBT people in Jamaica. Most seems to really take place. The stigma and discrimination has displaced LGBT folks from schools, homes and preventing access to healthcare services. This causes the community to be very vulnerable. Until there is legal reform, systematic changes and a honest conversation is had, Jamaica seems it will

Trinidad and ToBaGo - Candace moses It was 1997, she was Ellen, I was eleven, and I realized I was not alone. I had never heard the word lesbian until then and instantly I knew what it meant. I I perceived that my mom liked boys. It would take seven years for me to tell my mother, and when I did, I came out as bi. I did this as a way to ease her into the idea, while trying to convince anyone could be, and I was bi. I experienced life and experimented like any teenager both emotionally and sting of losing my virginity (to a man), both events holding equal standing longer bi but because I have made the conscious decision to preference through rainbows and thunderstorms and am surviving the test of time. They are my sisters, my surrogate mothers, my lovers, my kin.

GuYana Given the current social climate of our society in terms of how persons perceive homosexuals, I have reached a point in my life where I could care less of what people think. Today, I am living my best life ever and I owe it to myself as well as society out there to come clean as it were.

lesbians—as well as bisexuals—are on the down- low and choose not to even

to be happy and be in charge of my own happiness; not let others be in charge of it for me. You see, a lot of Guyanese males are caught up trying

will not measure up to what it means to be a man—‘a real man. I believe there is a gay rights group—if I may even call it that—in Guyana. But who are these people? Who are the members? What are they about? What are

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us anywhere if we are to make Guyana a safe and welcoming place for gays and lesbians. I am fully aware that persons I know might want to disassociate themselves from me; some will act like they never knew me; others might withdraw their friendship slowly . This testimony was extracted from a Stabroek News article entitled Journalist Leon Suseran comes out as gay on August 29, 2013. It is not the original content of the authors or publisher.

“You may not get want you want today. You may not get what you want tomorrow. But GOD is never too late,” This was heard at the University of Indiana back in 1992. I was 19 years old at the time, but its tone reigns true today when we speak of passive resistance and hope. Resistance starts with the simple act of coming out of the closet and burning years of family violence. Its about taking a stand in St. Lucia and Jamaica, or simply being in a Carnival or living in a gully and turning to begging or turning to sex work. The struggle of the Caribbean LGBT Youth is a struggle of invisibility, quiet resistance and passive protest that has its foundation in the need to protect individual expression and dignity. The frontline warriors in defending dignity and the right to expression are have always been, transgender and effeminate youth. Forced to deal with threats, mockery, ridicule and denial of the right to

into Vanessa or Shakira. I have heard, directly, one young Trans woman say,

Resistance exists in the form of pageants. When opponents threatened to protest a pageant called Ms. Gay Goddess Belize, the organizers simply shifted location from one side of the country to the next and LGBT individuals showed up. The right to expression will not be denied In 2013, there were protests in every district in Belize around the gender policy. people. I have had my two teeth knocked out, and my car damaged. For good measure a newspaper called me “Caleb the Traitor” and characterized

style, and I like showing off my legs. With much respect to my transgender

Nevertheless, we had the Supreme Court hearing in May 7th to the 10th, 2013.

and being the only Belizean claimant is not a vacation, it requires support externally and internally. It transforms a community into becoming vested in 13 | Generation Change

defending its dignity and rights through social media, targeting of journalists, can be both effective and frustrating at times. It requires a communication closet. For me, public backlashes are a century old tradition and litigation is a strategy to increase visibility and transform an issue into a national priority among politicians. It allows opponents to legitimatize concerns of community violence and hate through their public bigotry. Without opponents there can be neither dialogue nor motivation from social or legislative change. A cultural revolution is taking place that tells me that change is coming. Closet doors are being ripped apart and burned, keys are being thrown out by psychological oppression. Our challenge as a region is to build leadership capacity, to create national structures, and skillfully use platform issues like HIV/AIDS; Crime and Violence; Gender Issues; Sexual and Reproductive Health and Development planning as intersecting issues to advance our cause. The outcome of LGBT movement building should be legislative reform and strengthening of human rights institutions that supports protection and enforcement for all. When we fail to understand that development and policy is at the heart of our effort to have a better quality of life, we fail to understand the actual victory. Generation Change will be led by few, but it will be transformed by the many. Our

Presented on behalf of Caleb Orozco at the launch of Generation Change in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on June 7, 2014 at the Kapok Hotel

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The fuTure of The new GeneraTion 1.

Whereas the members of the Caribbean organizations –

acknowledge the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator b. respect the principles of social justice and therefore believe that the operation of the social, cultural and political systems should ensure fairness and equality through leading in unifying the diverse groups in our society through genuine inclusion. c. maintain that member organizations have signed on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees that all men are entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. 2.

And whereas the members of the Caribbean organizations recognize

3. And whereas the member organizations, in the interest of the people of the region, agree and subscribe to this coalition and to pool their considerable talents and resources in the regional interest at the critical juncture in the history of the equal rights movement. 4.

In the coalition, the partners are:

• The Silver Lining Foundation (SLF) • Caribbean American Domestic Violence Awareness (CADVA) • Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD) • United Belize Advocacy Movement (UniBAM) • United and Strong 5. Now therefore the members of the organizations agree and declare as follows: a. Provide a safe, secure and sustainable environment where all people can live, work and play without fear and which their quality of life is optimized – The members will seek to transform the society to create the environment which will end discrimination which contributes to the atmosphere in which inequality thrives. b. Provide an education and training system which enhances mutual respect and esteem, in order to help bring about a peaceful and fraternal coexistence between people of different sexual orientations within a framework which is relevant to the needs of the modern world, and to introduce a platform for young people.

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siGned: FOR and on behalf of THE SILVER LINING FOUNDATION ________________________________ Jeremy Steffan Edwards Executive Director, SLF

FOR and on behalf of BARBADOS GAYS, LESBIANS AND ALL-SEXUALS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION ________________________________ Donnya Piggott Executive Director, BGLAD

FOR and on behalf of UNITED BELIZE ADVOCACY MOVEMENT ________________________________ Caleb Orozco Executive Director, UniBAM

FOR and on behalf of CARIBBEAN-AMERICAN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS ________________________________ Ceara Roopchand Guyana Representative, CADVA

FOR and on behalf of UNITED AND STRONG INC. ________________________________ Kenita Placide Executive Director, United & Strong Inc.

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endnoTes 1.




5. 6.




10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws criminalising same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults, ILGA, May 2012, p 61, 28. wha/154521.htm 29.

Produced with the support of the:

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Generation change project report  

Report on 'Generation Change', a new coalition of LGBT youth from across the Caribbean proudly supported by the Kaleidoscope Trust.

Generation change project report  

Report on 'Generation Change', a new coalition of LGBT youth from across the Caribbean proudly supported by the Kaleidoscope Trust.