Body, Mind and Spirit (BMS) Foundation representatives Carl Buncamper and Bastiaan Janssens participated in the sixth Regional Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin America and the Caribbean ILGALAC in Havana, Cuba, May 6-10. This writes The Daily Herald.
The conference brought together more than 250 human rights activists from across the region and focused on the decriminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) identity and the promotion of human rights. This regional agenda is championed by Director of Cuba National Centre for Sex Education CENESEX Mariela Castro Espín. The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro is a recognized regional powerhouse in LGBT human rights promotion. The conference covered discussions of active legal discrimination within 11 of the participating countries versus the widespread “discrimination by omission,” by lack of recognizing bullying, lack of sexual education in schools and curriculums that ignore behavioural diversity and poverty prompted by identity discrimination.
BMS seeks full membership within ILGALAC and was the only representative of the Caribbean Netherlands at the conference. The Netherlands was represented by COC delegate Nori Spauwen. Buncamper participated in workshops focusing on community-level human rights promotion, and highlighted challenges with regard to the “machismo” component in Caribbean cultures as being at the root of gender inequality. He also mentioned the regional challenge of combating the high HIV-prevalence within the LGBT community. Among the conference’s priorities was the development of alliances and a human rights lobby and addressing movements within certain right-wing groups that profess to “cure” people from homosexuality.
Buncamper said ILGALAC organizations seek a strategy to criminalize these unfounded “cures” as human rights violations. The conference also discussed the so-called “Russian agenda,” which allegedly uses extreme right-wing elements and church factions in spreading propaganda messages addressed at destabilizing LGBT rights-centred movements.
Buncamper also outlined challenges faced by Dutch territories with ensuring that donor-driven agendas are aligned to actual local needs and realities. He also stressed the need “to de-genderize social roles within the community, which is at the root of selfstigmatization within some Caribbean cultures.” He is lobbying for an improvement of mentalhealth services and a better risk analysis of sexualbehaviour, which affect stigmatization amongst LGBTI groups. Buncamper said the conference “highlighted the need for a joint communication strategy at regional and international levels.” He believes the Dutch Caribbean territories stand to gain from ILGALAC membership and coordination in obtaining a voice with regard to LGBT humanrights promotion.