UNDP Caribbean development report addresses sexual minorities

Published: February 8, 2012

While constitutions around the region bar discrimination on the basis of race and gender, no such protection exists for sexual orientation or sexual minorities. Legally, homosexuality remains a crime in much of the region. Eleven CARICOM countries use laws against buggery to criminalize relationships between men who have sex with men.73 The insecurities faced by and exacerbating the vulnerabilities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities encompass problems in accessing health care, verbal and physical harassment, isolation and violence. This community also faces secondary victimization, including job loss, eviction from housing, denial of accommodation, and HIV/AIDS-related stigmatization. Despite the general stigmatization of the entire community, there is a relative tolerance for lesbians compared to a more vociferous hatred of gay men, which can be explained by what Herek (1984) labels defensive coping attitudes.74 Many of these issues are facilitated by the illegal status of homosexuality in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Sexual minorities are targeted for brutal violence and even death; consequently, gay men are an increasingly vulnerable group in the region. Homosexuals are stigmatized and stereotyped and generally seen as the negation of masculinity. Their vulnerability arises from the social construction of masculinity and the hatred for persons who challenge heterosexual notions of manliness. Thus, people who are or who are perceived to be members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer communities live in an environment of stigma, stereotype, and constant vulnerability to violence (Norman, et. Al. 2006; White & Carr 2005). Violence towards sexual minorities is tolerated and is, at times, even openly advocated in the media, religious practice and music in the Caribbean.
Regionally, there are numerous agencies, initiatives and programmes that have citizen security and the conditions of vulnerable populations as their mandate or area of focus. These include the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Inter-American Observatory on Security, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme of the Inter-American Development Bank. Their work can strengthen the knowledge base on citizen security and aid creative policy-making. (pp. 35-36)
Reducing Victimization
3. Government protection should be enhanced for those most at risk and least able to protect themselves, especially from violence by fellow citizens and representatives of the state. Accomplishing this would involve the following:
• Establishing better monitoring systems to prevent child sexual abuse generally, but also among children in the care of the state.
• Providing better legal protection for indigenous persons and sexual minorities. This would include the following:
o Appropriate national legislation to protect human rights.
o Support to strengthen advocacy groups.
o Reviews of current legislation to eliminate legal provisions that tend to discriminate against indigenous persons and sexual minorities or facilitate intolerance and violence against these groups.
• Establishing or developing capacity of gender-based anti-violence units in the police services of the region. (p. 176)

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