The 38th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) has approved by consensus a resolution recognising serious human rights breaches faced by persons of differing sexual identities.
The resolution (AG/RES-2435(XXXVIII-O/08) “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” was presented by the Brazilian delegation in the framework of the celebration of the 60th anniversary.
“After three days of intense negotiation and an impressive diplomatic mobilization, for the first time in the history of the hemisphere, the words sexual orientation and gender identity appeared on an official document approved by consensus by the 34 countries of the Americas,” a release from the Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination SASOD stated.
According to the release, the text recognises the serious human rights violations faced by individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
It added that the document was the result of a consensus, including English-speaking Caribbean countries whose legislation still criminalises consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex.
SASOD in collaboration with the Caribbean Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (CARIFLAG) welcomed the resolution, noting the good intentions of American and Caribbean states regarding the issue of homophobic violence.
“The Organisations hope that, with time and a process of education, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the rights of all citizens to freedoms without distinction to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status will be affirmed and protected,” the Society said.
In this regard, SASOD and CARIFLAG said, the resolution is a renewing hope in the dialogue on violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
SASOD feels that the resolution can advance within a framework where the basic rights of citizens, including gays and lesbians in the Caribbean, to live in free, fair and life-affirming societies are recognised.
“The resolution represents a step forward in the working process for the approval of an Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, whose negotiation will continue next year.”
The statement added that the current draft already includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as protected categories.
The achievements are the results of a collective working process started at the end of 2006 by Global Rights, Mulabi – Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos and IGLHRC – Latin America and the Caribbean (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission), aimed at strengthening the participation of the regional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite, Transsexual, Transgendered (LGBTTTI) movement as component of the civil society within the OAS.
In this frame, from May 29 to 31, more than 20 activists of different sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions from 16 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Medellín to work on a strategy for participation and visibility in the quintessential moment of the political life of the OAS.
The release stated that on May 31, the informal dialogue between the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, and civil society took place.
It added that within this space, the LGBTTTI groups had the chance to intervene three times, and one of the interventions was applauded by the audience.
The Secretary General took in great account the issues raised by the activists, underlining the question of the Brazil resolution and the importance of the participation of the representatives of our Coalition in this process.
Fourteen-year-old Camilo Rojas of Colombia read the declaration of the Coalition.
The document, making reference to the topic of the Assembly “Youth and democratic values”, highlighted the situation of human rights violation suffered by LGBTTTI children and youths.
The declaration obtained the applause of the civil society participants as well as the official delegations, and was circulated in English and Spanish to the heads of delegations, SASOD stated.
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