June 12, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Organization for American States backs anti-discrimination resolution
Wilson Castañera, Colombia, Caribe Afirmativo, gay news, Washington Blade

Wilson Castañeda of the Colombian LBGT advocacy group Caribe Afirmativo. attended the OAS meeting in Guatemala. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Organization of American States on June 5 adopted an anti-discrimination resolution that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

“Every human being is equal under the law and has the right to equal protection against all forms of discrimination and intolerance in whatever aspect of public or private life,” it reads.

The resolution the OAS adopted during its annual meeting that took place in Antigua, Guatemala, also said member countries have an obligation to prevent “all acts and demonstrations of discrimination and intolerance.” These include hate and bias-motivated violence and using the Internet and other media to incite “hate, discrimination and intolerance” against marginalized groups.

OAS delegates approved a second resolution that calls upon the organization’s 35 member countries to promote and protect the human rights of those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. They also approved a third resolution that urged nations to stop discrimination based on race.

Anti-LGBT discrimination and especially violence remain serious problems in the hemisphere in spite of recent advances on same-sex marriage and other issues in countries that include Brazil and Uruguay.

A report that Colombia Diversa, a Colombian LGBT rights group, released last month indicates 58 of the reported 280 LGBT Colombians who were murdered between 2011-2012 were killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A separate report from the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender Women (REDLACTRANS) notes 61 transgender women in Colombia have been reported murdered between 2005-2011.

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) said at least 30 gay men have been murdered in the Caribbean country between 1997 and 2004.

The U.S. State Department has spoken out against anti-LGBT violence in Jamaica and other countries that include Honduras and Perú.

The Jamaica Supreme Court later this month is scheduled to hear the first domestic challenge to the island’s anti-sodomy law. The Belize Supreme Court last month heard a case that gay advocate Caleb Orozco filed against the former British colony’s statute that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults.

Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados are among the nine other English-speaking Caribbean countries in which anti-sodomy laws remain on the books.

Wilson Castañeda Castro, director of Caribe Afirmativo, a Colombian LGBT advocacy group that works in cities along the country’s Caribbean coast, attended the OAS meeting in Guatemala.

He told the Washington Blade earlier this week his group welcomes the anti-discrimination resolutions.

“This has been a triumph for the region’s LGBT and Afro-descendent movement,” Castañeda said.

Jaime Parada Hoyl, who became the first openly gay political candidate elected in Chile last October when he won a seat on the municipal council in a wealthy enclave in Santiago, the country’s capital, described the resolutions to the Blade as “historic.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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