The Organization of American States adopts resolution that condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

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The Organization of American States adopts resolution that condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

30 June 2011

Credit: Patricia Leiva/OAS

A new resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), condemns discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The same resolution urge states to adopt the necessary measures to prevent, punish and eradicate such discrimination.

Under the theme of “citizen security in the Americas,” the 41st General Assembly brought together Ministers of Foreign Affairs and delegates representing 34 countries to El Salvador from 5-7 June 2011.

“This is a success for us and our work,” said German Rincon-Prefetti, lawyer and human rights activist from Colombia and member of the Coalition of Lesbians, Gays, Transgender, Bisexuals and Intersex populations. The Coalition had been advocating over the past five years to strengthen the resolution to protect their human rights.

The General Assembly provided the opportunity, for the first time ever, to a transgender person to address the members present. Speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Lesbians, Gays, Transgender, Bisexuals and Intersex populations, Monica Hernandez shared the Coalition’s concerns about to the wave of violence and hate crime experienced by sexual minorities in the region. “Acts of violence, human rights violations and discrimination practiced against us because of our sexual orientation and gender identity is the reality of our every day life,” she said.

The HIV epidemic in Latin America remains concentrated among men who have sex with men and transgendered persons. The latter group has reported HIV prevalence rates of 27.6% in Argentina and of 29.6% in Peru. At the same time the region has experienced an alarming increase in violence and intimidation towards transgender and other sexual minorities. “All forms of discrimination and violence—including transphobia—block access to HIV prevention programmes and impact the quality of care for people living with HIV. Working for the respect of human rights is at the core of the HIV response in Latin America,” said Edgar Carrasco, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Venezuela who represented the joint programme at the General Assembly.

UNAIDS has been working with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) since 2010 to support the development of a Hemispheric Report on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The IACHR is a principal organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), mandated by the OAS Charter to promote the observance and protection of human rights in the region.

Now we have an instrument to document the human rights violations we are facing and to make changes for the better

German Rincon-Prefetti, lawyer and human rights activist from Colombia and member of the Coalition of Lesbians, Gays, Transgender, Bisexuals and Intersex populations

German Rincon- Prefetti is optimistic of the impact this resolution will make. “Now we have an instrument to document the human rights violations we are facing and to make changes for the better,” he said. “The new resolution requests IACHR to prepare the Hemispheric Report in time for the next General Assembly to take place in Bolivia in 2012, with the member states full participation and in collaboration with civil society.”

In follow-up to the new resolution, UNAIDS regional office in Latin America, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), supported the first of five expert meetings to establish the foundations for the Hemispheric Report on 17-18 June. 

The expert meeting developed a network of resource people linked to HIV and health issues for lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexual and intersex populations that will elaborate a roadmap for the Hemispheric report including the draft State and non-State questionnaire. This will provide the comprehensive and standardized information for the report to be implemented in the 35 countries.       

Organization of American States

The Organization of American States is a regional international organization whose members are the 35 independent states of the American Continent. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.