A group of LGBT rights advocates from the Caribbean and South America are in the U.S. this month on a State Department-sponsored trip designed to help them bolster their advocacy efforts in their respective countries.
Advocates from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago arrived in D.C. on June 7 to take part in a trip organized through the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
They attended Capital Pride events and met with Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado, members of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and other advocates while in the nation’s capital. The activists also met with officials at the State Department and the White House.
The group traveled to Memphis on June 14 where they met with what their itinerary described as “small NGOs (non-governmental organizations) serving the LGBT population.” They also discussed “being LGBT within another minority community.”
The advocates on Monday traveled to Little Rock, Ark., and are scheduled to arrive in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday. The trip is slated to end on June 23.
“It’s a very intense program,” Donovan Banel, legal advisor of Suriname Men United, a Surinamese LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on June 12 during a mixer at Number Nine with National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling and other advocates. “I can take a lot of what I learned back to my home country and then apply it and help support the LGBT community that is in Suriname.”
Mellissa Johnson of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance noted anti-LGBT discrimination and stigma remain prevalent in Antigua and Barbuda. The islands are among the 11 nations throughout the Caribbean and South America in which homosexuality remains criminalized.
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