Bridgetown, Barbados – From 1 to 2 of October 2019, the Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (UN IE SOGI) held their first Joint Consultation to discuss the inclusion in the economic, social and cultural sphere of the LGBTI persons and the eradication of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Caribbean. The consultation was organised as part of a strategic alliance between both human rights mandates, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Joint Consultation gathered government representatives, ombudspersons, numerous civil society organisations and other stakeholders, from 15 Caribbean States to engage on a series of dialogues and discussions regarding barriers, as well as best practices to enable access to education, housing, health, employment and access to justice for LGBTI persons in the Caribbean region. The discussions reflect the achievements in the sustainable development goals agenda-setting and the respective inclusion of LGBTI persons in national and regional policies and programmes.
The United Nations Independent Expert, whose mandate was renewed in June 2019, says, “I take away a rich knowledgebase from this first engagement with the region, which will facilitate my planning and future engagement. I am very appreciative about the alliances I could build with various stakeholders from the region and look forward to work for the furtherance of human rights of LGBTI persons in the Caribbean, with a keen understanding of the challenges of opportunities residing in the region” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz.
Commissioner Flávia Piovesan, Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons of the IACHR added that “this was an opportunity to deepen engagement with the Caribbean States in the matter, as well as a strong commitment of the institutions involved to further promote equality and no discrimination for all, both fundamental pillars of human rights”. The Commissioner also said that “the Consultation provided a way forward for the work that the LGBTI Rapporteurship has been doing for almost a decade and to build its work in this region. This consultation provided a much welcome opportunity for review, evaluation and reflection as to what should be our future actions”.
Both experts coincided in their appreciation of the consultation by affirming that “our discussions have made it evident; to leave no one behind in the Caribbean region, access to socio-economic and cultural rights of LGBTI person is primordial. We look forward to providing any support necessary for the achievement of this objective.”
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three year period starting on 1 January 2018. Until 30 June 2019, he served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centres with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.