Colombia, July 2 2019. During the week in which the 49th OAS General Assembly was held in Medellin, Colombia, members of the Afro-LGBTI Network for Latin America and the Caribbean from Brazil, Colombia, Peru and the Dominican Republic met together on June 27th. This meeting included a series of workshops about political advocacy in countries and reinforcing knowledge about the Human Rights Protection System in the Americas. Manuel Canahui and Ernesto Zelayandia, who are currently fellows at the Rapporteurship on the Rights of LGBTI Persons at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), were present for a training on the Inter-American System of Human Rights, as well as its significance for Afro-LGBTI activism in each of the member countries of the Network. During the meeting, the fellows instructed the activists, who are also members of the Institute’s counterpart organizations, about the importance of the Inter-American System, including its organs, namely, the IACHR and the Interamerican Court of Human Rights.
The fellows talked about the work of the IACHR LGBTI Rapporteurship, including the year of its creation and its most important investigations: the 2015 Report on Violence Against LGBTI Persons and the latest Report on the Recognition of the Rights of LGBTI Persons in the Americas. The latter report was launched and discussed in Colombia during the same evening, with the participation of three Afro-LGBTI activists as panelists. After this initial presentation, the activists analyzed the different resources the IACHR has for the promotion and protection of human rights and how they can use them strategically. Public hearings, country visits, working meetings, and precautionary measures, among others, were mentioned.
With all this information given to our counterparts, they also had the opportunity to learn about how they can coordinate the work of different Rapporteurships addressing intersectional issues. This has already happened between the Rapporteurships on Women and Children. Therefore, the possibility of joining the Rapporteurship on Afro-Descendants and the LGBTI Rapporteurship in order to work on issues relevant for the activists was mentioned. Finally, the importance of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as a source of relevant jurisprudence about the protection of rights of LGBTI individuals was discussed. In this way, the Inter-American legal standards about equality and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity were briefly explained to our counterparts, so that they include those standards if they are doing strategic litigation on those topics.
Race & Equality celebrates these types of gatherings in which our counterparts can establish close relations between members of international bodies such as the IACHR. In order to make state-level advances in the guarantee of equal access of Human Rights, it is essential to have these spaces of feedback and training. This makes activists better-informed about available resources that they can access internationally for legal advocacy on Afro-LGBTI issues. Also, it helps international bodies and their officials learn about what other needs are being raised thanks to the work of local human rights organizations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, making this joint work essential for an improvement on generating intersectional analysis and proposals.