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EMPODERA training school for LGBTIQ+ activism
EMPODERA school in session


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Continuing Forward with Diversity

The Andean Region, made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, has seen an increasing rise in fundamentalist religious leaders and nationalist and conservative politicians. A favorite target of their rhetoric is gains made in LGBTIQ+ rights. But our project Adelante con la Diversidad (Forward with Diversity) is harnessing political and legal forces to protect the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in the region.

Translating a major success into many more

A major success was advocacy by Adelante-trained LGBTIQ+ leaders that led to the Andean Parliament’s Recommendation 493 in April 2022. This historic ruling called on Andean member states to protect the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people. More than 40 other pro-LGBTIQ+ policies, programs and legal rulings were additionally approved by the member states.

The program initially received funding from the EU, which came to an end early this year. But thanks to the support of private donors in the Netherlands, we were able to continue this important work. The aim now is to ensure that individual Andean countries translate the Andean Parliament’s recommendation into national laws.

In 2023, the program’s consortium partners have been conducting additional regional trainings, planning a next phase of the program (Adelante III), exploring innovative engagement methodologies, and running a regional social media campaign to promote LGBTIQ+ rights.

Continuing the Empodera regional training

One of the pillars of the program is its political training school called “Empodera” (Empower). By December 2022, it had taught 420 LGBTIQ+ Andean leaders political advocacy, holistic security, spokesperson ship, and organizational participation and leadership skills. In July 2023, the school held new sessions for these trainees on subjects like knowing the opposition, strategic communication that appeals to people’s emotions, and inclusive dialogues in complex contexts.

EMPODERA training school for LGBTIQ+ activism
July EMPODERA session in Lima, Perú

New training methodologies

At the Empodera training, Adelante partner Mutante introduced the theory and methodology of a depolarizing dialogue called “Willing Opposites.” Basically, it teaches how to change a situation of conflict by transforming the interactions of those involved in that situation.

Juan Camilo Maldonado, director of Mutante, explained that “Willing Opposites” de-escalates animosity between potentially persuadable people in opposite camps. The method creates new conditions for active dialogue and listening that facilitate understanding and persuasion. It can be used when talking about LGBTIQ+ people with medical personnel, teachers, parents, adult care givers, religious leaders, the police, and Indigenous communities.

This year’s social media campaign

The aim of the campaign, which ran in July, was to maintain an active conversation about Andean LGBTIQ+ rights on social networks.

The campaign’s messages and images focused on LGBTIQ+ people having the same rights as everyone else, getting voices from the community to tell their stories, and highlighting the situation for LGBTIQ+ people in different countries.

One rights-related post read: “No matter our gender, or gender orientation, identity or expression, we have the same rights and it’s everyone’s duty to make sure they’re fulfilled,” linking to a petition urging Andean countries to translate the Andean Parliament’s recommendation into national laws.

To engage with community voices, campaign posts asked: What’s the situation of LGBTIQ+ people in your country? What have you or someone you know experienced?

And there were targeted messages for each country, some linking to petitions. For Bolivia, for example, it was: “According to a report by ADESPROC Libertad, Bolivia has an extremely high rate of impunity in complaints about LGBTIQ+ rights violations. It’s crucial we change this. Make the first move by signing this petition.”

You can find an overview of Adelante’s main activities and results here.