The exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons in the discussion and planning to address sexual violence was brought into focus by United and Strong (U&S) as the organisation added its voice to a regional workshop staged in Saint Lucia by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The ‘Caribbean regional gender workshop on sexual violence in the Caribbean, status and needs including in humanitarian situations’, saw 34 government and NGO representatives from 12 countries attending. The three-day workshop reviewed a strategy, initiated by the UNFPA to reduce gender-based sexual violence and provide a framework for action and guidance in regional and in-country gender-related activities.
The three-day workshop heard country and NGO reports that detailed actions by national institutions and civil society organisations to address and prevent gender-based violence. Among the presentations, however, only Belize, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago included LGBT persons in national plans to combat sexual violence.
“I believe it is important to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in programmes dealing with gender-based and sexual violence” states U&S representative Edma Pierre.
“The fact that they are also victims is often ignored and they are treated with a lack of sensitivity within the system.”
United and Strong representatives took the opportunity to highlight the risks inherent in not considering LGBT when designing responses to sexual violence, particularly in disaster and humanitarian situations.
They stressed that LGBT should be given consideration across the board from the design of training; selection of staff; services provided for at-risk persons; how these services are advertised; the structure of facilities, including toilets; the policies that govern safe spaces for victims of abuse and the legal challenges that can affect all of these.
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