LGBTI people in the Caribbean face legal, social and economic barriers to full inclusion and enjoyment of their human rights. In spite of positive developments regionally, including increased attention and funding to address some of these issues and models of anti-discrimination policy and law, there remains much work to be done to guarantee equality of LGBTI people under the law and ensure protection from violence and discrimination as well as equal access to services. Punitive laws and practices have a critical impact on the enjoyment of human rights, health as well as on social and economic development more broadly. Punitive laws, policies and practices contribute to pervasive stigma and discrimination, which can lead to hate crime, police abuse, torture and ill-treatment, and family and community violence.
These legal, social and economic barriers serve to marginalize the LGBTI community and prevent them from equally benefiting from development and hinders the development of small island nations who rely on their human capital for growth. Homophobia and transphobia are manifested in a range of ways in the region, including violations of basic rights to identity, health, education, work, safety and housing. Moreover, LGBTI people are often excluded from legal protections, rejected by families and communities and treated unfairly in schools, workplaces, health care settings and communities.
Some laws threaten the right to privacy, safety and justice and some countries in the region continue to ignore calls to condemn “all forms of discrimination against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” and “to eliminate, where they exist, barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in equal access to political participation and in other areas of public life, and to avoid interferences in their private life” (Organisation of American States).
In recognition of the importance of acting on these issues and the connection between securing the rights of LGBTI people and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for the region, the United States Government-supported Being LGBTI in the Caribbean Project was developed. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Project, which is being implemented by UNDP, is a partnership between the two agencies, and builds on the lessons-learned from the similar Being LGBT in Asia initiative. The project aims to enhance knowledge, partnerships, and capacities of LGBTI communities, civil society and States to reduce human rights violations and negative attitudes towards LGBTI people in the Caribbean. There will be country level focus in Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica, as well as regional activities and dialogues. The project will seek to increase access to justice for LGBTI persons, through the promotion of LGBTI inclusive public policies; increased representation of LGBTI in national and regional fora; and by addressing stigma and discrimination.
The UNDP Sub-regional Office for Barbados and the OECS will oversee project activities in Barbados and some activities including national dialogues being implemented in Saint Lucia and Grenada. The project has three main objectives:
1. To develop and disseminate knowledge, strategic information and evidence on the impact of inequality and exclusion of LGBTI people
2. To support the meaningful engagement of governments in the selected countries (supported through national and regional dialogues)
3. To develop the capacity of LGBTI Community Groups through enhanced coordination, increased access to existing tools, transfer of knowledge and concrete actions to address stigma & discrimination