Miami Herald: Gay-Rights Community Fights to Advance Cause in Latin America and Caribbean

By Randy Gener

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UNITED NATIONS -- Two years ago, a gay couple and their friend vacationing in St. Lucia were tied up, beaten, threatened with knives and guns, and told that they would be killed if they tried to escape. The men later freed themselves, climbed out a window and hiked down the mountain to a friend’s house.

That incident was the worst case of anti-gay violence on record on the small Caribbean island, according to Kenita Placide, co-executive director of St. Lucia‘s United and Strong, which works on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Placide said she has received several threats “just because I am an advocate for LGBT rights.” Two men held her up on the steps of a local department store and threatened to kill her if she did not stop advocating for gay rights on television, she said.

In the Caribbean, “the media have played a major role” in the international visibility of the struggle for gay rights in Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago. But Placide said the scrutiny in those countries has overshadowed the worsening human-rights conditions in other Caribbean nations. ...

...Because of the rise of anti-gay violence in St. Lucia since 2005, Placide said, “We are concerned that we are becoming a little Jamaica.

“Jamaica has had gruesome murders that none of the other Caribbean countries can say they have had,” Placide said. “What’s happening in St. Lucia is that we have the murders, and because the victims were openly gay, we have made a point about it. Whether Jamaica is more out there than other countries, that depends on the media and scholars — it all depends on who places focus on what.”

As the outrage against recent anti-gay rulings in Russia and other countries dominate headlines, human-rights advocates at the U.N. meeting, organized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), said they’re worried that the high-profile rulings draw too much attention away from worsening condition for gays in many other countries. ...

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