Panama: Victory! First Gay and Lesbian Organization is Formally Registered

SUMMARY

After a legal battle which lasted three years, AHMNP -- Asociaciòn Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panamà (New Men and Women Association of Panama), the first gay and lesbian organization formed in that country -- has finally obtained legal recognition. Activists are celebrating, and want to thank the international LGBT community for ongoing support which contributed greatly to this achievement.

AHMNP was created in April 1998. In February 1999, AHMNP submitted a request for legal recognition to the Minister of Government and Justice. The aims of the organization as specified in its constitution were: 1) to conduct activities aimed at raising awareness among those sectors of the population facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation; 2) to contribute to the defense of those populations' rights, and to the assumption by them of their responsibilities, in such a way that they can develop their full professional, cultural, socioeconomic potentials; 3) to identify educational, legal, labor-related, and social problems suffered by populations discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, and suggest solutions.

In January 2000 recognition was denied by the Ministry on the grounds that AHMNP was an association contrary to "moral and good habits."

Earlier this year, Ricardo Beteta, AHMNP president, met with members of the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS) during their visit to Panama. Mr. Beteta submitted to them a report on the situation of LGBT people in the country and the legal problems AHMNP was facing. The Commission members expressed their opposition to any legal restrictions imposed upon AHMNP.

AHMNP thanks all those who contributed to this victory: members and former members of the organization; their partners and friends; local and international organizations which supported their claim; journalists; and all men and women, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight who contributed to the campaign, lending solidarity and material support.

Please send your congratulations to AHMNP - Asociaciòn Hombres y Mujeres Nuevas de Panamà ahmnp@yahoo.com

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