On Saturday, March 16, indigenous LGBT elected officials and candidates from North and South America provided testimony at a public hearing at the Inter American Commission on Human Rights at the Organization of American States. Three leaders representing indigenous populations in Bolivia, Mexico and the United States testified at the panel “Situation of the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Indigenous Persons in the Americas.”
The Victory Institute supported the attendance of three public leaders: Ronald Céspedes, Quechua Nation, a gay City Councillor in Sucre, Bolivia, who is also the founder and director of Bolivia’s largest national LGBT rights organization, Fundación Diversencia; Amaranta Gómez, Zapoteca Nation, a one-time candidate to the Mexican Congress and muxe activist; and Arizona state Sen. Jack Jackson Jr., Navajo Nation.
The hearing (video) detailed the human rights needs of LGBTI indigenous populations across the Americas and made concrete suggestions for how IACHR can begin to address them. It capped the week-long 147th General Session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the OAS in Washington, D.C., and highlighted the work of the relatively new OAS IACHR Unit on the Rights of LGBTI Persons.
The hearing comes just a few weeks after the Little Traverse Bay Bands of the Odawa Indians in Michigan became the third tribal nation in the U.S. to recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples. U.S. census data estimates that there are 5.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, or about 1.5 percent of the total population.
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