- 2014 National LGBT Conference
- 31 July 2014
It is well known that Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist or social movement leader. Between January 2007 and June 2012, 225 trade unionists were murdered for campaigning for their members’ rights and social justice. What is less known by many is that the situation in Colombia is also incredibly difficult for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who also regularly suffer disappearances, forced migrations and other violations of their human rights.
Many of these crimes go unpublished, with victims also suffering from police and societal abuse. A recent national report published by Colombia Diversa – an LGBT civil rights advocacy group based in Bogotá – cited that 67 LGBT people were murdered between 2006 and 2007. Of this number, 29 occurred in the Valle del Cauca department and 21 killings took place specifically in the city of Cali. Furthermore, in 2006 the Cali-based El Pais newspaper reported that despite there being an active LGBT community, many employers do not hire LGBT workers and many people in Cali are forced to conceal their identity for fear of losing their jobs.
Activists campaigning for LGBT rights are under an increased level of risk due to their prominence: on 6th March 2009, human rights defender Alaro Miguel Rivera was murdered in his apartment in Cali. Rivera was active in different organisations and projects to promote the rights of LGBT populations.
Despite these conditions there is an active and growing resistance from LGBT groups within Cali. UNISON Northern Region has maintained their long history of supporting projects working with organisations within this department of Colombia. These include a women’s capacity building project working with sugar cane communities, and developing communication capacity with Sintraunicol (an education union). On a recent delegation to Cali the Region also met with LGBT groups in the city to gain a better understanding of their campaigning activity.
It is important that we further develop links with LGBT groups in Cali to support the work of social movement leaders across the Valle del Cauca department. Conference therefore calls on the national LGBT committee to:
1. Increase awareness of human rights violations against the LGBT community in Colombia; and,
2. Work with Regions to establish links with organisations in Valle del Cauca, especially Cali;
3. Contact Fundacion Santa Maria and explore possibility of developing international solidarity project.