In November 2018, following the 1st consultation of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Civil Society Organizations in Barbados,
the UNDP sub regional office for Barbados and the OECS hosted a 2-day meeting that offered a unique opportunity for Government and LGBTI civil society partners to work together in addressing the stigma and discrimination experienced by the LGBTI community.
Opening and working sessions of the Stigma and Discrimination training — UNDP Barbados & the OECS
21 participants formed new relationships and strengthened existing ones, thanks to the discussions that took place between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and representatives from the Government social services. As a result of the workshop, participants from the Welfare and Labour departments and health facilities under the Ministry of Health have not only a better understanding of the problems the LGBTI community faces in Barbados and about the programmes that CSOs offer nationally and how their clients could benefit from them. Additionally, CSOs have now a better knowledge of the referral processes for social assistance and how to address complaints as it relates to stigma, discrimination and violations that might occur in polyclinics and other governmental agencies. They are now more aware of what specific routes can be taken in these departments, towards resolution and redress. Participants also had the chance to visit the Sustainable Development Goals gallery and recognize the connections between equality and inclusion for all in building peaceful and just societies.
Sustainable Development Goals gallery — Michael Rapley from EQUALS
Later on, in December 2018, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Institute for Gender and Development Studies, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) & Barbados Council for the Disabled hosted the LIVITY project forum in St. Lucia. The BLIC project was introduced to an audience that included youth, the disabled and CSOs from the Eastern Caribbean.
The opportunity was taken during this mission to develop new partnerships for the roll out of BLIC activities with key partner organizations such as United & Strong, ECADE. Discussions were also held with the OECS Commission Health desk and the OECS Strategic Response Towards HIV/TB Elimination project given that the OECS Commission has membership which includes two of BLIC partner countries, as well as agreements to work together with these partner governments and taking a human rights focus with key population issues.
Finally, last February 2019, a mission to Grenada introduced the BLIC project to Government officials from various institutions such as the Ministry of Finance, Planning, Economic & Physical development; the Ministry of Social Development, Housing & Community Empowerment (dealing with gender and policy issues); the Ministry of Health, National Infectious disease control unit; and the Ministry of Education, Human resource development and religious affairs. Project introductions were also made with key CSO partners who have shown interest in being involved in the project and have also been involved in work related to marginalized communities including GrenCHAP, the Grenada National Organization of Women, Legal Aid & Counseling and the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association. The project was also introduced to specific partners at the St. George’s University which has groups on campus which support diversity and support for onsite community although not directly involved in off campus advocacy.
All these activities and linkages with Governments, Civil Society and NGOs are key to learn from previous and current partner experiences, and to garner local support in the preparations of the upcoming BLIC National Dialogues in the OECS countries, leaving no one behind.