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Ending Stigma and Discrimination
In recent years, several of the our Member Associations (MAs) across the Caribbean have significantly increased efforts to ensure that the sexual rights of the populace are respected and addressed. A basic tenet of the programs of these associations is that confidential and high quality services will be provided to all regardless of sexual orientation, age or status.
Member Associations in Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Dominica, Aruba and Curacao are paying particular attention to sensitizing the society to the rights of some of the most ostracized groups in society – Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) and sex workers – and ensuring access to services in a welcoming environment. Their leadership has resulted in greater sensitivity to the plight of these groups, and support for their human rights. In 2010, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) went one step further when, in collaboration with UNICEF, it convened a Round Table of Caribbean Parliamentarians to bring attention to the plight of sex workers in the Caribbean with regard to the extent to which their human rights were being contravened and to underscore the fact that respect for their rights would create more healthy outcomes for all. FPATT also produced a widely broadcast video entitled “xxx” which further served to sensitize the public to the sub-human conditions of the sex worker.
A woman’s right to choice is another sexual right and priority within our Member Associations’ rights work. While abortion is legal in Barbados, Guyana, Martinique and Guadeloupe, in many other Caribbean countries, the procedure is only available under certain circumstances, such as rape, or to safeguard the physical or mental health of the mother. Operating within the framework of the law, terminations are made available through the MAs in Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Belize and St. Lucia up to eight weeks.
From time to time, MAs come under attack for their stance on the right to choice. This was particularly so in 2010 in Belize. The Belize Family Life Association (BFLA) was singled out for attack by organized conservatives. By standing their ground and rallying the support of partner organizations, the BFLA was able to counter the right wing’s attempts to persuade the Prime Minister to reinstate the very punitive and archaic 1861 law on the abortion issue.