March 28, 2017 at 6:44 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Hundreds to attend LGBT conference in Dominican Republic

Kendra Stefani Jordany, gay news, Washington Blade

Kendra Stefani Jordany is a transgender woman from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who is running for a seat in the Central American Parliament. She is among the more than 300 activists, elected officials and candidates who are expected to attend a conference in the Dominican Republic that the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute is co-organizing. (Photo courtesy of Kendra Stefani Jordany)

More than 300 people from across Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to attend a conference in the Dominican Republic later this week that is designed to bolster LGBT and intersex political engagement in the region.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute is co-sponsoring the gathering that will take place at a hotel in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo from March 31-April 1. Caribe Afirmativo and Diversidad Dominicana — which are LGBT and intersex advocacy groups in Colombia and the Dominican Republic — are also organizing the conference.

Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute President Aisha C. Moodie-Mills; Dominican Congresswoman Jacqueline Montero; Caribe Afirmativo Director Wilson Castañeda; Diversidad Dominicana Executive Director Rosanna Marzán and Victor Terrero, executive director of the Dominican Republic’s National Council on HIV and AIDS, are expected to speak at the conference’s opening plenary on March 31.

Sandra Morán, who is the first openly LGBT person elected to the Guatemalan Congress, and Tamara Adrián, who is the first openly trans person elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, are among those who are also scheduled to attend the conference. Elected officials and activists from Haiti, Belize, Aruba, St. Lucia, El Salvador, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Spain, Jamaica, Argentina and the U.S. are also expected to take part.

Sandra Morán, the first openly LGBT person elected to the Guatemalan Congress, speaks with the Washington Blade at her Guatemala City office on Jan. 31, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Dominican LGBT and intersex activists will hold a day-long conference on Thursday.

“Victory Institute and our partners will bring together more than 350 LGBTI leaders from the Caribbean and Latin America to develop strategies for building LGBTI political participation to advance equality,” Moodie-Mills told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “Throughout the conference in Santo Domingo, we will emphasize that representation is power, and that more LGBTI representation in the region is the best means to advance equality for our community.”

Victory Institute co-organized previous Latin America conferences

The Victory Institute co-organized conferences that took place in Honduras and Peru in 2015 and 2013 respectively. The organization has also conducted a series of trainings in Colombia that were designed to encourage LGBT and intersex people to become more involved in the country’s political process.

Moodie-Mills pointed out to the Blade that Julián Antonio Bedoya, who has attended Victory Institute trainings, in 2015 became the first openly gay mayor elected in Colombia when he won his race in the city of Toro in the southwest portion of the country.

Angélica Lozano, a bisexual woman who is the first openly LGBT person elected to the Colombian congress, and her partner, Sen. Claudia López, were among those who attended the Victory Institute’s International LGBT Leaders Conference that took place in D.C. last December.

Angélica Lozano, who is bisexual, is the first openly LGBT person elected to the Colombian congress. (Photo courtesy of Angélica Lozano)

Erick Martínez, a prominent Honduran activist who also attended the D.C. gathering, earlier this month lost his bid to become the first openly gay person elected to the Central American country’s congress.

Erick Martínez, gay news, Washington Blade

Erick Martínez, right, sought to become the first openly LGBT person elected to the Honduran congress. (Photo courtesy of Erick Martínez)

Kendra Stefani Jordany last month became the first openly trans person to ever win a primary election in Honduras. The Central American Parliament candidate is among those who are scheduled to attend the Victory Institute conference in the Dominican Republic.

“LGBTI leaders who attended previous Victory Institute trainings in Colombia, Honduras and other countries have gone on to run for office and become historic firsts,” Moodie-Mills told the Blade. “We are committed to continuing these collaborations with regional partners so more LGBTI leaders seek public service and can better the lives of LGBTI people in their countries.”

James “Wally” Brewster, who is openly gay, became the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 2013. He resigned in January once President Trump took office.

Editor’s note: Washington Blade International News Editor Michael K. Lavers will present a workshop on the media at the conference on Friday. It is part of the Blade’s year-long reporting project that focuses on Latin America.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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