Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hate Crime Victim Turned LGBT Activist Speaks to Washington NGOs

In March, 22-year-old Pedro Robledo and his then-partner were violently attacked at a party in Buenos Aires by a group of homophobic religious conservatives who spotted the gay couple kissing.

Despite the incident, Argentina—in many respects—is at the vanguard globally of LGBT rights. In May 2012, for example, the country became the first to pass a gender identity law, according to which Argentinian citizens can officially change their gender identity based on self-identification. The country also legalized same-sex marriage in July 2010, and since that time, there have been more than 7,000 same-sex marriages.

The progressive legislation, however, does not reflect Argentinian society as a whole. Robledo, who spoke last Friday to LGBT advocacy organizations in Washington at the Inter-American Dialogue, said that much of Argentinian society still maintains religiously conservative views that are intolerant of the gay community. He said that Buenos Aires is unique to the rest of the country in that LGBT people in the capital city are generally free to express their sexuality in public without fear of being targets for hate crimes. He added that outside of Buenos Aires, many LGBT members face discrimination. To expose this situation, Robledo, who has become a political activist for the LGBT community, went with a television crew to a hospital in northern Argentina, where he was denied condoms because of his sexual orientation and then kicked out by a police officer.

Carlos Quesada, Global Rights’ Advisor on the Rights of LGBT people and a speaker at last Friday’s discussion, said that the LGBT movement in Latin America needs more support from mainstream human rights organizations, which typically choose not to adopt the LGBT movement because they consider it too controversial or because they simply do not view LGBT rights as human rights. Human rights organizations are well-established in various countries and have positive and enduring relationships with governmental and international organizations. Therefore, the efficacy of the LGBT campaign would improve drastically if the two groups were to work cooperatively.

At the national and regional level of governments, LGBT organizations also need to improve their advocacy skills, Carlos said. Fruits of a successful advocacy campaign were borne in June this year at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which adopted the Inter-American Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, an agreement containing specific language that protects, among others, victims of discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  The Convention needs to be signed and then ratified, at which point it will become legally binding for countries that ratified the new instrument.  After the Convention is ratified, any decision made at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the judicial body of the OAS, will set a precedent for all nations that ratified the Convention.

Global Rights is highly active in promoting the rights of the LGBT community in Latin America. Our organization will soon draft a policy paper that we expect to present at a hearing in October to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the precarious situation of Afro-Brazilian transgender women in Brazil. In Colombia, we are working to strengthen the capacity of Afro-Colombian transgender women to combat impunity and to document human rights abuses. Last Monday, Global Rights joined our fellow members in the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas to censure Venezuela's denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights, a treaty the OAS first adopted in 1969 that provides the foundation for human rights norms in Latin America. Venezuela last week also withdrew officially from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Carlos Quesada, Global Rights' Advisor on the Rights of LGBTI people, discusses the challenges and opportunities for LGBTI rights in Latin America and the Caribbean at a conference organized by the Inter-American Dialogue.

No comments:

Post a Comment