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ECADE urges policymakers to denounce violence and discrimination following murder of Michael Pooran

March 25, 2019

The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) has issued a statement denouncing all forms of violence and discrimination following the murder of Guyanese National Michael Pooran.

ECADE stated that groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Caribbean citizens have long cautioned governments that buggery and gross indecency laws pose a threat to the lives of anyone perceived to be gay, and therefore criminal. In the wake of the murder of Michael Pooran on 23 February 2019, local human rights group United and Strong and regional umbrella organisation ECADE, urged governments to strongly denounce any form of violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

“As we stand in sympathy with the family…we encourage the governments of Saint Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean to re-examine the impact of the Buggery and Gross indecency Laws (Criminal Code, sections 132, 133) that are widely interpreted as criminalisation of the LGBT community. These laws create an image of gay people as criminals and embolden others with a sense of impunity that has proven to be a real threat to anyone whose gender expression is felt to be outside of the norm,” stated ECADE.

The organization further stated that individuals who may not fit what might be considered “normal” or “accepted” gender expressions are at risk and that protection of all vulnerable groups equals protection of every citizen and allows everyone the freedom of expression.

The statement underscored that in 2018, the 48th OAS General Assembly approved a tenth resolution on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” that encourages member states to consider “adopting public policies against discrimination by reason of sexual orientation and gender identity”. ECADE noted that while this resolution does not insist on full protection of LGBT citizens, progressive governments could enact the necessary legislation.

“Our government has recognised and committed to international fora to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all citizens. It is therefore unfortunate that our police force cannot identify or prosecute bias or hate crimes and the lack of legislation may serve as a barrier to providing full protection to those who are, or perceived to be, gay”, stated ECADE.

ECADE committed to continuing advocacy to achieve full recognition of the human rights of all people through litigation. The organisation indicated that it would continue to monitor and engage with law enforcement, the judiciary and state representatives.