In Search of an Inclusive Peace
Promoting LGBT Rights in the Aftermath of the Colombian Conflict
Publisert: 25.06.2018 Redigert: 25.06.2018
In November 2016, the Colombian LGBT rights movement achieved a historic feat: The Peace Agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) became the first in the world to recognize LGBT people as victims of an armed conflict.
The Agreement acknowledges the disproportionate and differential impact of the war on LGBT populations, guarantees access to truth and justice for them, and charts the way toward more LGBT-friendly political and civic spaces. In fact, it pledges to promote LGBT people’s political and civic participation and to combat the stigmas that enable violence and discrimination against people with diverse gender identities and/or sexual orientations.
Discussing LGBT with ELN
Colombia Diversa has been at the forefront of this ongoing struggle for LGBT rights since early 2014.
During the peace process, we participated in meetings with the Gender Sub-Commission that helped craft the gender approach and documented conflicted-related human rights violations committed against LGBT people.
Since the signing of the final Agreement, we have closely monitored its implementation, provided legal opinions and technical guidelines on peace-related bills and other public policy instruments, and collaborated with various government entities to ensure the recognition of LGBT rights and the inclusion of LGBT people in peace-related programs.
We have also taken an active role in the peace process with the National Liberation Army (ELN), for which we have met with government officials to ensure LGBT inclusion in the eventual accord.
Our Work is Not Done
Fortunately, the Peace Agreement’s historic recognition of LGBT rights presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to break stigmas and create a more inclusive and pluralistic society.
Unfortunately, our hard-fought gains have been under attack since before the Agreement was even signed. With the impending change in government, the threat of backsliding is even more acute.
The opportunistic assault on LGBT rights has created a need to be constantly vigilant of our rights gains and actively engaged in the implementation process.
One of our most important partnerships in this regard is with FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development. Thanks to its support, we have been able to document human rights violations committed against lesbian, bisexual, and trans (LBT) women in different places in Colombia, identified patterns of victimization against these populations, and argued for their recognition. We have also been able to advocate for the full implementation of the peace provisions related to LGBT rights.
All of these activities are essential to securing justice for LGBT victims of the armed conflict. In their absence, LGBT rights could be too easily dismissed as “special interests”, and human rights violations against LGBT people as isolated incidents that do not meet the standards of gravity and representativeness. As such, we are deeply grateful to FOKUS for its contributions and cognizant of its importance for our continued success.
In recent years, authorities in Colombia have taken several steps to recognize the rights of LGBT people. In June 2015, the Justice Ministry issued a decree allowing people to revise the gender noted on their identification documents without prior judicial approval. In November 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled that sexual orientation could not be used to prohibit someone from adopting a child, although a legislative proposal to hold a referendum on this issue remained pending at time of writing. In April 2016, the Constitutional Court upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Source: Human Rights Watch Report 2017.