Alexia Bukely – Activism without Borders
As the David Kato Vision & Voice Award (DKVVA) begins to celebrate its fourth year, we continue to receive hundreds of nominations of phenomenal activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights around the world. With the announcement of this 2015 winner coming up on February 13th at the renowned Teddy Awards in Berlin, we are honored to introduce you to the incredible people who have been shortlisted for this year’s award.
Today we highlight prominent LGBTI activist Alexia Bukely from El Salvador. Please read her story below!
Alexia Bukely is a leading transgender activist from El Salvador. In 2000 she founded Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras, bringing cultural activities to the Salvadoran LGBTI community while also pressuring local officials to denounce human rights abuse and promote HIV prevention and treatment services for vulnerable populations.
Although anti-discrimination laws exist in El Salvador, the LGBTI community is still a major target for prejudice and abuse and while steadily strengthening its health care system to address HIV and AIDS, epidemic levels continue to plague vulnerable communities – making Alexia’s work with Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras all the more crucial. In 2007 Alexia’s organization was granted legal recognition, becoming the first NGO human rights group dedicated to LGBTI issues in El Salvador.
Alexia recognized the need for human rights initiatives organized around LGBTI issues when she was an adolescent. After being kicked out of her home for her sexual orientation, Alexia was driven to start a group offering community, safety and artistic expression for the Salvadoran LGBTI population. This group grew to become Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras. It was among these friends that Alexia first came out as transgender.
Many of Alexia’s colleagues were HIV positive during this time, and Alexia soon understood the intricacies and impact of HIV and AIDS among vulnerable communities. In this way, Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras expanded to include and advocate for not just sexual minorities but people living with HIV and AIDS, sex workers, people with disabilities, and LGBTI youth.
Alexia was emboldened to create a space to speak out about the issues affecting those who are doubly persecuted, recognizing that these individuals are not only oppressed by society at large, but also within the LGBTI community itself.
Alexia soon began an initiative to speak at universities, government institutions, NGOs and other venues, educating and making visible issues particular to those populations who are doubly, even triply discriminated against. She also began the first national campaign to recognize May 17 as the National Day against Homophobia in El Salvador.
Alexia has made great strides with her activism in El Salvador – remaining thoughtful and self-reflexive throughout her community building. Her commitment and dedication reveal the invaluable role activists play in making change happen on a local, national and global scale.
The DKVVA is supported by a Secretariat based at the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). The MSMGF advocates for equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM, including gay men and MSM living with HIV, while promoting their health and human rights worldwide. You can find more information about the MSMGF at www.mpactglobal.org