December 17, 2020 at 8:04 pm PST | by Ernesto Valle
Forum focused on the importance of LGBTQ rights in Central America
Visibles, a Guatemalan group, organized a virtual forum on LGBTQ rights in Central America that was held this month.

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – As part of the commemoration of International Human Rights Day, the organization Visibles de Guatemala, held a virtual forum on LGBTQ rights in Central America from December 9 to 12 with the theme “Rights Here and Now” .

The forum was held under the premise of being a space for meeting, political dialogue, learning, and defining strategies. Given the current context of emergency and closure of spaces that has been experienced globally, organizations have been fundamental in supporting the most affected people, including LGBTQ and intersex people, which is why the creation of these spaces.

“The first objective of this space is to document and make visible the impact and contributions of LGBTIQ people and organizations in Central America, to position the important work in support of the community and also generate inputs for political advocacy in their respective countries and internationally”, says Luis Barrueto, part of the Visibles team at the opening event of the virtual forum. “This is also a space to think about building a different policy and thinking about strategies to advance the shared objectives.”

Due to the new reality that is being lived, Visibles saw an opportunity in the virtual world to get closer to the international LGBTQ community and thus guarantee a greater participation of organizations and its population. In the first session, they sought to generate a series of ideas for action and in this way inspire activists to generate dialogues that begin to generate changes, while calling on each participant to make the activity more visible, making publications with the hashtag # RightsAquíyAhora.

“This forum is important to remember the obligations that States have and to be able to discuss what are the best strategies that civil society organizations can have,” said Bruno Rodríguez, advisor to the presidency of the Inter-American Court of Rights. Humans (IACHR).

“The inter-American system, the inter-American court, has stated that it is not possible to discriminate or exercise violence against LGBTIQ persons and has especially emphasized that the rights of LGBTIQ persons are Human Rights, and to the extent that we all fight for that that is respected, it will be when we can truly be free and equal ”, he concluded in his participation.

Among the inputs shared by Visibles within the framework of this virtual forum, was the report “Shared Realities: An Analysis of Violence Against the LGBTIQ + Population”, 35 percent of LGBTQ Guatemalan people suffered violence in the last year. In the case of transgender people, up to 62 percent suffered violence in the same period. This study also shows realities of “corrective” practices, which should no longer exist, “in the investigation, we have a testimony that tells how his family did conversion therapy, this is through the medicalization of LGBT identities, for ‘ correct ‘supposedly’, mentions Tristán López, part of the Visibles team.

“Conversion therapies are also of a religious nature, this affects relationships between family members, because then there is a rather hostile environment at home,” said Marisa Batres, part of the Visibles team; On the educational side, Batres added that 67 percent of the LGBTQ population interviewed manifested some type of violence in their student entities, “more than half of those interviewed told us that they received violence from their classmates,” he added .

Other relevant data from the study show that there are 11 percent of cases among the people interviewed, who have suffered some type of violence by a public official, “we have two cases in which the police extorted and criminalized people from the population LGBT, ”Batres explained.

Among the public events that the forum had, there were three sessions on addressing LGBTQ issues from journalism and research, among which was “LGBTIQ Migration: glances for journalism” with Paola Ramos from Vice magazine, Sarah Kinosian from the Reuters news agency, Sibylla Brodzinsky from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Jennifer Ávila from the digital newspaper Contracorriente. The other two topics were “What do those who edit the media say about inclusive language” and “How to report on religion and power?”, All leaving useful tools for the exercise of work with respect to diversity.

At the end of the final day of the forum, the session was called: “Weaving Alliances and Complicity in Central America”, which aimed to exchange ideas and experiences; This space was directed by Ana Lanz and Andrea Gómez from Visibles, along with them Jordán Rodas, Guatemalan Human Rights Attorney, with whom they finally established guidelines for following up on what was discussed during the forum sessions.

“In all the institutions of the States there are people of sexual diversity, they have political rights and they exercise them, not for that reason they should be judged, an official should be judged if he is corrupt or if he is inefficient, but not for being of diversity ”, commented Rodas.

Art and culture were also present at the closing of the Central America LGBTIQ Forum , Rebeca Lane, Guatemalan poet and feminist rap singer and anarchist, presented some of her pieces, with which she “tries to break the heterosexual narratives that exist in the music ”, thus showing the diversity that exists between us and us. 

Ernesto Valle is a journalist and activist in San Salvador, El Salvador, who covers LGBT issues.

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