Law repeal call
Leaders at the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV & AIDS (PANCAP) have called for the repeal of anti-gay laws in the region.
Former UN boss Kofi Annan told the meeting on the island of St Martin, “I think it is extremely important that this be done as quickly as possible… as we move forward we are going to need creativity, leadership and sustained effort.”
St Kitts & Nevis islands Prime Minister and outgoing PANCAP chairman, Denzil Douglas told the meeting that while gay rights remained unpopular with voters in the region, it was important that politicians revisited “laws that… discriminate against people who are living with HIV/AIDS and who have been affected as a result of HIV/AIDS”.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said that many Caribbean nations still numbered among the 80 countries with homophobic laws and the 51 countries which barred HIV positive people from entering their borders.
“It is a global issue and we need to address it in a very strategic manner,” said Siddibe.
“What is important in the case of the Caribbean is to review the laws because you have two-thirds of the countries in the Caribbean who have those punitive laws against most at risk populations.”
Gay rights may stall
US Congressional election may put the breaks on gay rights reforms under the Obama administration.
Last week’s election saw the Democrats lose their majority in the Congress while retaining control of the Senate.
President Obama has said that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, banning gays in the military, and the Defence of Marriage Act which stops federal benefits going to gay married couples should be ended by the Congress not the courts in explaining why his Administration has filed court motions defending the policies he pledged to end.
Marriage fight heats up
The fight for marriage equality in the UK has been given a boost with the country’s largest GLBT rights group finally joining the campaign.
Last month Stonewall founders Sir Ian McKellen and Labour EU MP Michael Cashman joined others in criticising the group for avoiding the issue.
Soon after, Stonewall announced it had widened its campaign objectives to include extending civil marriage to gay people.
“We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it,” read a statement.
Stonewall will seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay couples but will not be campaigning to allow heterosexual couples who do not wish to marry to enter into such unions.
Stonewall has previously stated that, “campaigning to end heterosexual disadvantage is not one of its charitable objectives”.
Photo of Stonewall founder Sir Ian McKellen by Ann-Marie Calilhanna.