Tag Archives: The Caribbean

Caribbean News | Marginalized Communities

New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
  • The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
  • The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
  • Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
Read

Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)

New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)

Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)

Cuba Feature | Muslims

The Muslims of Cuba

With estimates of their numbers as high as 10,000, Cuban Muslims have grown from a tiny group of followers to a vibrant cultural community, particularly in Havana. An atheist state under communism, Cuba has begun to relax prohibitions on religion over the years, providing a small space for Muslims amidst the country’s predominantly Catholic population. Cuba itself experiences little immigration, but a growing number of converts have expanded the presence of Islam in the Caribbean nation.

As funding from Turkey supports the construction of a mosque in Old Havana and Saudi Arabia sends religious garments, observant Muslims, increasingly visible, are now faced with educating their broader communities about a religion few have had much interaction with outside of negative television reports. For Ramadan, several media outlets have taken a look at the community of Cuban Muslims looking to practice a faith of restraint some Cubans see as foreign to their culture.

Read:
Cuban Muslims celebrate Ramadan despite the obstacles” (Al Jazeera)
Islam thrives in communist Cuba” (USA TODAY)
Practicing Islam in Catholic Cuba” (CNN, April 2016)

(Image Credit: Kamilia Lahrichi/USA TODAY)

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Commemorating the day when homosexuality was de-pathologized by the World Health Organization in 1990, the 13th-annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) stands as an occasion for global mobilization towards LGBT visibility and security. The day, like many global celebrations, is also one many governments choose to speak out on global human rights and minority security, announcing initiatives to support their LGBT citizens and international projects.

Even today, ongoing disagreements between nations over LGBT rights have prompted diplomatic rows and roadblocks to international cooperation, including the recent objection of 51 Muslim countries to the participation of LGBT groups in a U.N. AIDS forum in June. The push to extinguish homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at all geographic levels remains important to the global mobility of LGBT people worldwide.

Here are highlights from IDAHOT 2016:

Africa & the Middle East


Video Credit: Collectif Arc-en-Ciel

LGBT Nigerians have continued wrestling with conflicting legal messages, with the recent passage of the landmark HIV Anti-Discrimination Act doing little to undo the effects of a 2014 anti-homosexuality law.

While a moratorium on LGBT criminalization is officially in place in Malawi, individuals are subject to entrenched marginalization and stigmatization in healthcare services, with a national referendum on LGBT rights having stalled.

The Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organized events for IDAHOT in Bulawayo, focusing on mental health as ongoing social and healthcare difficulties plague the community.

Though homosexuality remains criminalized in Tunisia, activists have achieved increased visibility and pushed for legal reform amidst ongoing discrimination.

Israel reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT Israelis, announcing funding to support an emergency shelter for LGBT youth and a hostel for trans people who have recently undergone gender confirmation surgery.

Days before IDAHOT, activists staged a sit-in outside of a Beirut gendarmerie, protesting Lebanon‘s anti-homosexuality legal holdovers from French occupation.  Similarly, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) issued an appeal to the Lebanese government to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing for recognition of homosexuality’s presence within the natural variation of human sexuality.

The Americas


Video Credit: teleSUR

U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement of support as his administration lended its voice to a national debate over the bathroom rights of trans people.

In Canada, PM Justin Trudeau announced an anti-discrimination bill protecting trans security as advocates organized a demonstration for trans healthcare rights following the firebombing of a trans health clinic.

Across Latin America, important gains in same-sex partnership and family rights and gender identity healthcare and legal protections have heartened LGBT Latin Americans, but the region continues to have some of the highest reported rates of violence against the LGBT community in the world.

LGBT organizations held cultural and political events throughout Argentina to highlight conditions facing the Argentine LGBT community, call for an anti-discrimination law, and press for federal recognition of the International Day Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, as the day is known.

Cuba celebrated the day fresh off Pride events in Havana, where Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raúl Castro, led a parade of thousands through the city streets.

Asia Pacific


Video Credit: Out for Australia

As the country continues contentious battles including the push for marriage equality and erasure of “gay panic” legal defenses, rainbow flags and celebrations appeared across Australia, including over police stations in Canberra, in the streets of Brisbane, and in the senior-care facilities of Tasmania. In Victoria, officials announced a retreat for Aboriginal gender minorities to be held later in the year.

In China, a study conducted by the U.N. Development Programme, Peking University, and the Beijing LGBT Center, the largest of its kind to date, was released revealing that only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are fully out at school and work, but also showed encouraging levels of acceptance of LGBTI people among China’s youth. The head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission expressed support for anti-discrimination legislation at IDAHOT festivities in the city.

In Fiji, former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined festivities at the French Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the island’s LGBTQI community.

Advocates took to op-ed columns in India to confront ongoing transphobia, reflect on gay representation in film, and highlight everyday homophobia in urban life.

A tug-of-war over LGBT rights between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-diversity moderates in Indonesia has led to mixed messages about LGBT security in the nation, spurring anti-discrimination protests.

A recent Human Rights Watch report on anti-LGBT bullying in Japan served as a reminder of the purpose of the day, highlighting rampant anti-LGBT sentiment even as the government has initiated broad efforts to combat bullying in schools.

Europe & Eurasia


Video Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The divergent prospects for LGBTI people across Europe, from Western Europe’s distinctive commitment to the protection of gender diversity to ongoing persecution in the East, was further confirmed through a UNESCO report highlighting anti-LGBT violence in schools released as global education ministers met in Paris.

Rainbow colors appeared in the shopping district of Cyprus‘s capital as 22 organizations came together to organize events to launch the country’s third Pride Festival, focusing on the need to increase legal recognition of both sexual and gender minorities in the country.

In Gibraltar, organizers canceled event plans in support of action on marriage equality legislation currently under consideration, arguing that holding a rally in front of the Parliament as uncertainty prevails would undermine pressure on MPs.

Kosovo‘s first Pride march brought out hundreds from the LGBT community to Pristina, including the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.

Organizations in Luxembourg planned a silent march to call attention to the plight of LGBTI individuals worldwide and call for increased international protections (including asylum).

Organizers in Serbia took the day to announce the date of this year’s Pride parade (September 18) and address concerns of homophobia as right-wing parliamentary representation has increased.

Advocates, allies, and diplomats gathered around the rainbow flag raised at the US Embassy in Latvia.

On the island of Gozo in Malta, NGO leaders celebrated gender diversity in the country.

After advocates scrapped plans for IDAHOT activities in Georgia due to security concerns, a group of activists were arrested for painting pro-LGBT graffiti on administrative buildings. A “Family Day” protest against LGBT rights and visibility, the third such anti-LGBT demonstration, brought together members of Georgia’s conservative Orthodox community and international religious groups.

In the U.K., London’s new mayor promised to make the city a more just place for its LGBT residents as a rainbow flag flew over the Mayor’s Office.

(Image Credit: EPA, via The Straits Times)

Bermuda News | LGBT

Bermuda prepares for referendum on same-sex civil unions and marriage
  • Set for June 23, the referendum will ask respondents two questions: whether they support same-sex marriage and whether they support same-sex civil unions.
  • “Yes” campaigners include a constellation of pro-LGBT groups include Rainbow Alliance, Marriage Equality Bermuda, Same Love Bermuda, and OUTBermuda.
  • The referendum follows a November 2015 Supreme Court ruling granting same-sex partners of Bermudians residency and employment rights in the country.

Read more:
Campaigners prepare for same-sex referendum” (The Royal Gazette)
Date set for referendum on same-sex unions in Bermuda” (Caribbean360)
Bermuda court grants equal rights to ‘binational’ same-sex couples” (PinkNews)

Additional:
Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda
Marriage Equality Bermuda
Same Love Bermuda

(Image Credit: via The Royal Gazette)

Interregional News | Cuban Migrants

Surge in Cuban emigration spurs resentment in U.S. and bottleneck throughout Central America
  • Taking advantage of Cuba’s 2012 removal of exit visas, more than 43,500 Cubans arrived in 2015, a 78% increase over 2014 and nearly six times as many as in 2011.
  • Following an airlift of Cuban migrants traveling to the U.S. through Central America stuck at a closed Nicaraguan border, Costa Rica closed its borders to Cuban migrants, trapping thousands across its border with Panama in towns like Paso Canoas and Puerto Obaldia.
  • With the reestablishment of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, some have begun calling for a revision of the immigration policy that fast-tracks permanent residency for Cuban immigrants over others, including those from violence-riddled Central America.

Read more:
Cuban migration to US continues to swell on fears of losing privileges” (AP via The Guardian)
Bound for U.S., Cuban migrants are stuck in Central America” (CNN)
Cuban immigrants face resentment in Texas over ‘preferential treatment’” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Ilana Panich-Linsman/New York Times/Redux/eyevine, via The Guardian)

Cuba News | Dissidents

Protesters arrested as Cuban government “cleans house” ahead of Obama’s historic visit
  • Dozens of members of the dissident group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) were arrested in the hours before President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the Caribbean nation, protesting the lack of democratic reform as Castro’s Cuba reconnects with the U.S.
  • Although the group holds weekly protests, this week’s drew a large pro-government counter-demonstration as foreign media descended on Havana ahead of Obama’s visit.
  • Obama is expected to meet with dissident leaders during his visit and raise human rights issues, including free expression, during his meeting with President Raúl Castro.

“Everyone wants to know how we Cubans feel about Obama coming. … I’m frankly just happy that giant pothole finally got filled in, so if I have him to thank for it, thanks Obama!”

Read more:
‘The oppression is high’: Cuban police break up protest ahead of Obama’s visit” (The Guardian)
Cuba’s Message to Its People: Be on Your Best Behavior for Obama” (The New York Times)
Cuba breaks up weekly dissident march hours before Obama visit” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA, via the Guardian)

Cuba Feature | Afro-Cubans & Women

Those Whom Revolution Left Behind

As Cuba’s economy continues to experience a significant boost from normalized relations with the U.S., many black Cubans and women have yet to see the benefits. Structural inequality and ongoing discrimination have shuttled the disadvantaged into an underclass of limited opportunity despite persistent and high-profile government attempts to eradicate the problem. While a significant number of white Cubans were able to flee abroad to the U.S. and send remittances back to their families, many Afro-Cubans were tied to what opportunity they could get in low-paying government jobs. Women have found themselves disproportionately shouldering domestic tasks, disappearing jobs, and lack of social capital relative to men. Boston ReviewThe Root, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation examine how political, social, and economic developments have re-marginalized Cuba’s black minority and women over the last two decades.

“Prejudice never disappeared. It was simply concealed under the table. And silence allowed all the problems to grow, under the table.”

Read more:
Cuba After the Thaw” (Boston Review)
One-on-One With Afro-Cubans: What It Means to Be Black in Cuba” (The Root)
In Cuba, racial inequality deepens with tourism boom” (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

(Image Credit: Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)