Successfully advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights in the Andean region
Our efforts to harness political and legal forces to protect the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in the Andean region are paying off. We’re taking a moment to celebrate the many pro LGBTIQ+ rights norms, policies, programs, and legal rulings that were approved by the Andean Parliament and individual member states.
Countering a dangerous anti-rights movement
The Andean Region, made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, is experiencing a rise in actors with social and political influence whose rhetoric threatens progress made in human rights and puts LGBTIQ+ people at great risk. Among them, fundamentalist religious leaders and nationalist and conservative politicians stand out. Their praise of traditional religious values and rejection of sexual diversity and gender equality can lead to exclusion, threats and violence.
With our unique European Union-funded project Adelante con la Diversidad (Forward with Diversity), we worked to guarantee comprehensive security, access to justice and the right to non-discrimination for LGBTIQ+ human rights defenders in the region. But how did we go about that?
1. Our school for advocacy has so far trained 420 LGBTIQ+ leaders from the Andean region.
2. A total of 45 pro LGBTIQ+ rights norms, policies, programs, and legal rulings were approved by the Andean Parliament.
3. A large number of LGBTIQ+ rights violations complaints was filed in the region. By December 2022, some 5,849 complaints had been received and dealt with by justice systems in the four Andean countries. This is a strong indication of increased public awareness that LGBTIQ+ people have the same rights as everyone else.
EMPODERA: A political training school
Understanding the political context of the Andean region and collaborating to identify opportunities to effectively influence policymaking was the founding principle of the project. We established the EMPODERA (“empower”) School for LGBTIQ+ political training in the four countries of Andean Region. The school consolidates LGBTIQ+ Andean leaders’ knowledge of political advocacy, holistic security, spokesperson ship, and organizational participation and leadership. The school has so far trained 420 LGBTIQ+ leaders from the Andean region.
We also provided training in strategic litigation for lawyers and important public servants such as those at the Council of the Judiciary in Ecuador and the National Election Jury in Peru, among others. We additionally strengthened regional alliances with networks such as LGBTI Litigants of the Americas and the Latin American Observatory Without LGBTIQ+ Violence (SinViolencia LGBTI), which led to significant advances in advocacy at the regional level.
To strengthen the work of activists and lawyers and put the necessary tools in their hands, we started reporting annually on data concerning violation of LGBTIQ+ rights in each country.
A trainee from Peru talks about the Empower School. “My experience at EMPODERA was totally enriching. We learned how to build and use networks and alliances. It expanded our worldview and social awareness, helping us understand the realities and needs of our colleagues in each region. EMPODERA motivated me to keep fighting to close inequality gaps and continue participating politically. To create a country without prejudices where positive change drives social development. Or as Rosa Luxemburg said, ‘A world where we are socially equal, humanly different, and totally free’”.
Pro-rights legal action and public awareness
During Adelante con la Diversidad, a total of 45 pro LGBTIQ+ rights norms, policies, programs, and legal rulings were approved by the Andean Parliament; Bolivia and Ecuador approved nine new normative instruments, and Peru 18. Colombia passed eight pro-rights legal rulings.
Another encouraging sign was the large number of LGBTIQ+ rights violations complaints filed in the region. By December 2022, some 5,849 complaints had been received and dealt with by justice systems in the four Andean countries. This is a strong indication of increased public awareness that LGBTIQ+ people have the same rights as everyone else.
This trend was echoed in the rising number of investigative reports by journalists on assaults and hate crimes against LGBTIQ+ people or their defenders. By January 2023, a total of 144 groundbreaking data-based reports and human interest stories appeared in local and national media outlets. They both influenced public opinion and presented new narratives in defense of the LGBTIQ+ population’s rights.
A historical first
On November 3, 2022, for the first time in history, the Peruvian government publicly apologized to Azul Rojas Marín, a trans woman who has been assaulted and tortured by the Peruvian police. By doing so, it complied with the reparations imposed on Peru by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Adelante con la Diversidad, through its partner Promsex Peru, was closely involved in this case and the IACHR hearings.
A huge victory
In April 2022, the Andean Parliament approved the Andean regulations to protect the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people (Recommendation No. 493). This historic regulation called on Andean states to harmonize pro-rights laws throughout the region. During the project Andean LGBTIQ+ summit in Ecuador, parliamentarians and the Secretary General promised to update the Andean Human Rights charter and asked LGBTIQ+ civil society groups in the region to work with them on this.
Call to action
The Andean Parliament approved a new regulatory framework for the Protection of the Human Rights of LGBTIQ+ Persons in the Andean Region, which represents a huge step forward for the entire LGBTIQ+ population.
Now we must ensure that the Council of Ministers accepts this regulatory framework and includes it in the laws of all four Andean countries. You can help by signing this petition: https://chng.it/dzhZcgQR
Several Andean LGBTIQ+ activists share their thoughts in this short video in Spanish with Spanish subtitles.