Activist Roundtable by Question

The Bahamas – Erin Greene
I joined CAFRA (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research in Action) in The Bahamas in 2000 and became the Bahamas’ National Representative for CAFRA in 2002. I am now the interim deputy chairperson of CAFRA. I was a member of CRAFFT (Constitutional Rights Reform and Facilitation Team) that conducted a six-month lecture series culminating in a two-day workshop and the submission of draft legislation to the Bahamas constitutional reform committee in 2002-2003.

I was an executive member of and spokesperson for the Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas when it formed in 2003 until the organization was closed in 2008. I joined CARIFLAG (Caribbean Forum for the Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities) in 2007.

I am a member of Bahamas Human Rights Network, which was formed in 2007. I now work as a human rights activist and host an Internet television show “The Culture of Things” where I discuss various issues surrounding human rights. I have made numerous television and radio appearances to discuss Human Rights and LGBT Rights.

Guyana – Joel Simpson
I work on sexual rights and health in the Caribbean; primarily in the countries I reside (and resided) and sub-regionally and regionally as well. I am the Founder and Co-Chairperson of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana, Co-Founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Anti Violence Project (TTAVP) and founding member of 4Change, both of which have subsumed in Trinidad and Tobago’s Coalition Advocating Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO). At the regional level, I have been involved in the leadership of the regional lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network – then called the Caribbean Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (CFLAG) but now re-named the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) since its resuscitation in 2006 as Steering Committee Member, Focal Point, Spokesperson and Advisory Board Member. I am also a Legal Core Member of the Human Rights Working Group of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

Martinique – Fred Cronard
Since 1998, I worked in the field of fight against AIDS in Martinique. In 2002, I started my first preventive actions in the LGBT groups of Martinique. It was the first actions implemented in Martinique for this group. In 2004, a group of people living with HIV and gays, we have created Association Martinique Vivre Ensemble [Martinique Living Together Association] (AMVIE). AMVIE was working on the principle of community engagement of people living with HIV and LGBT. In 2005, AMVIE has developed the first programs to prevent HIV and STIs and the fight against discrimination of LGBT people in Martinique. In 2007, I was elected president of the AMVIE. In 2011, AMVIE has decided to merge with the AIDES association, based in Pantin (France). AIDES is the largest association of fight against AIDS and hepatitis in France. Currently, I’m president of AIDES Martinique.

There are no laws against homosexuality in French law. There are laws that protect the privacy of individuals, and who condemn homophobic acts. However, there are homophobic attacks, and it is always difficult for LGBT people assaulted to complain.

This is especially true in Martinique and other French departments of America of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and St. Martin (French part). The police sometimes refuse to accept the complaint of a person LGBT assaulted. There are few (or not) programs for LGBT rights developed in the French Department of America (Martinique (1), Guadeloupe (1), French Guiana and St. Martin (French part)). There are few (or not) of cooperation between the associations of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana and St. Martin with NGOs in the Caribbean region, in the fight against AIDS and the fight for LGBT rights.

In 2006, a seminar was held in St. Maarten by the Ministry of Health of France. There were 153 participants from France, and various Caribbean countries (Dominican Republic, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Lucia, Suriname, etc.). A workshop was devoted to relations between men (MSM). Few links have been developed and maintained by the associations of French Department of America and the Caribbean NGOs.

In 2010, a program of cooperation with the Caribbean, funded by the European Community, and entitled “Setting up of a regional HIV observatory between French territories and other countries in the Caribbean” was implemented. The project leader is the University Hospital Centre (CHU) of Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe). Investigations are carried out in the public men who have sex with men (MSM), crack users, sex workers, migrants. The scientific coordination of the investigations is provided by the Clinical Investigation Center – Clinical Epidemiology (CIC-EC) French Guiana (Hospital Centre (CH) Cayenne). AIDS coordinated some of these investigations, including MSM, Martinique, Guyana and St. Martin.

AIDES Martinique priorities for 2012 for LGBT people are:

– Strengthen our prevention efforts : preventing HIV/STI, testing HIV rapid tests
– Develop actions for the rights of LGBT people
– Develop visibility actions
– Develop advocacy at local and regional
– Develop links with NGOs in the Caribbean

Suriname – Tieneke Sumter, Chair of Women’ S Way Foundation and Chrystabelle Beaton member and LGBT advocate from the LGBT Platform Suriname.

Women’ S Way was founded in 2008 but became a foundation in may 2011. It is our mission to create a platform for women who (also) Love women in Suriname and the rest of the CARICOM. Our goals are to strengthen the emancipation of women who (also) love women, promote and stimulate the wellbeing and health of women who have sex with women (WSW) and advocate for social acceptance. We offer a meeting place for women (also on FB), organize discussions, lectures, training and leisure activities like parties and trips. We also collect data of the needs of the WSW community.

The LGBT Platform Suriname was established in August 2011. It is a network of 5 organization (Suriname Men United, He + HIV Foundation, Women’ S Way Foundation, Club Matapi and Proud 2 be) who decided to work together after a member of our parliament, Mr. Assabina, requested an anti-homosexual policy from the government in Parliament. He called for the destroying of the root courses of homosexuality, which according to him is a disease. We were pleased to see that the chair of our parliament stopped him and asked him not to discriminate since our constitution respects and protects every individual. Also other parliamentarians came up for the rights of LGBT’s. This was the start of a long discussion in the Surinamese society and even Human Rights Watch came with a statement. Mr. Assabina was forced to apologize.

The LGBT Platform Suriname wants to secure the rights of LGBT’s and create more awareness about the rights of LGBT’s and acceptance of people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity. Our first activity was to organize the National Coming Out Day (NCOD) and walk in October 2011. We receive an official permission from our President to use the park in front of the presidential palace. A group of 250 and 300 persons participated in this activity. We were able to dominate the news for more than one week. Parents and member of parliaments walked with us while the police guided us. With help of the Dutch Embassy we were able to organize a training for aspirant LGBT advocates; to develop information material about homosexuality which was distributed at several public events. The COC Netherlands made it possible for us that one of our members could attend the UPR meeting in Genève and could give a statement on behalf of the LGBT Platform Suriname.

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