Saint Lucia’s LGBT Community Seeks Acceptance

Advocates say 2015’s goal is to increase public acceptance for minorities under the theme “education, tolerance and love.”

One of the Eastern Caribbean’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups is seeking greater respect for sexual diversity in Saint Lucia.

The group United and Strong, representing the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens, has set an ambitious agenda for 2015, one that includes plans for greater dialogue with policy makers.

Jessica St. Rose says significant progress has been made in promoting the rights of members of the LGBT community, but says there is still a lot of work to do. She says the goal is to get government to listen more attentively to the pleas of the LGBT community.

“With our theme this year, ‘educate, tolerance and love,’ we hope to sensitise the public more on the issues affecting minority groups, especially the LGBT person. We hope to partner with various agencies, particularly the government, to collaborate and listen to our issues, because it’s very hard to get the government to hear us and to listen to our issues,” she said.

As a prominent voice of the LGBT community, St. Rose says there is growing tolerance for minorities in Saint Lucia among members of the public.

“The tolerance level has grown. Where we want it to be it is not there yet and Saint Lucians I guess because of the mindset and the culture and the religious aspect of it too, because religion plays a very important role in this. So we’re not totally accepted, but tolerance has grown,” she said.

The group has made appeals for the Ministry of Education to take heed of changing times and ensure that the curriculum in schools caters to the LGBT community. The organization has also made calls for the nation’s harsh buggery laws to be dropped, ensuring that the constitution speaks to the rights of all, regardless of sexual preference.

Saint Lucia is also the Eastern Caribbean hub of the Caribbean Forum for the Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities, known as CariFLAGS.

The island has been leading the charge among the nine countries that make up the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, focusing on human rights and the elimination of stigma and discrimination.

LGBT groups are slowly being established in other others. In Dominica, the non-profit Minority Rights Dominica (MiriDom) was launched in 2013. Grenada launched the Grenada Chapter of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership (GrenChap) in 2009. Some islands, such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, do not yet have established LGBT groups.

by Kentish Alison
Source – telesur