www.ambiente.us    APRIL | ABRIL 2011

Colombia’s Human Rights Delegation Visits U.S., meets
with Unity Coalition & other SoFla LGBT Leadership
By Eddie Sierra

The United States Department of State in coordination with the Office of
International Visitors, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently hosted a
group of distinguished Human Rights leaders from Colombia. The program
entitled - Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy – A Project for Colombia was a
huge success thanks in part to the kindness and contribution Meridian
International Center the national program agency and the Miami Council for
International Visitors (MCIV) - www.miamiciv.org.  Unity Coalition | Coalicion
Unida again was chosen as a community liaison to help assist and coordinate
the participants visit to the City of Miami.  
As the only Hispanic organization of its kind, Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida
continues to lead in the community by partnering with local and national
governmental organization to further our mission in diffusing equality not only
within America’s borders, but well beyond them.  The two day informative and fast
paced itinerary was composed of some of the most sought after and influential
citizens from various segments of Colombia’s population, it included
Mr. Pedro
Julio Pardo C Director of Procesos Interinstitutionales, Excecutive Director,
Santamaria Foundation a GLBT organization; Mr. Gabriel Teodoro Bisbicus,
President, United Indigenous Awa People’s Organization (UNIPA); Ms. Martha
Isabel Cardona Zapata, Family Commissioner and Police Inspector (Andalucia,
Valle); Mr. Luis F. Escobar Franco, Ombudsman, Soacha Municipality; Mr. Miguel
A. Fierro Pinto, President and Legal Representative, Funcacion Un Millon de
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Voces (One Million Voices Foundation); Mr. Carlos Enrique
Gomez Orozco, Detective, Security Administrative
Department; Mr. (Lt. Col.) Julian Ignacio Lemos Lemos,
Regional Coordinator, Presidential Agency for Social Action
and International Cooperation (Accion Social); Mr. Branly
Mena Maturana, University Professor, Trial Lawyer; Mr.
Federman Tenorio Ortiz, Legal Representative, Red de
Consejos Comunitarios del Pacifico Sur, (Network of
Community Councils of the Southern Pacific, RECOMPAS);
and Ms. Luz Faney Vargas, Project Coordinator,
Reconciliation Center of Colombia, Foundation for
Reconciliation.
  
The visit was of extreme importance given the socially
progressive agenda Colombia has embraced in order to
leave behind years of a civil war that has ravaged and affected
many areas of its society, including but not limited to social
justice and equality for LGBTQ members.   The visit came to a
close with Unity Coalition | Coalicion Unida’s  pledge to
assist and work together with other Colombian organizations
to help draft local and national Human and Equality Rights
laws to help protect LGBTQ members in a society that is still
very pragmatic and extremely discriminating.  Colombia has
continually been plague by a continued violence against
LGBTQ members in several areas of the country particularly
rural areas.  That not to say that it has not taken a lead to
amend their national constitution, these steady strides has
taken place since consensual homosexual activity was
decriminalized in 1980, followed by amendments to the
Criminal Code. In addition, between February 2007 and April
2008 several rulings of the Constitutional Court granted
registered same-sex couples – equal pension, social
security and property rights as for registered heterosexual
couples.
A landmark victory and a major social
progress much awaited in the United
States, which excludes LGBT couples equal
rights under DOMA and other state laws that
so blatantly discriminate against them.  
Therefore, Article 13 - of the Colombian
Constitution of 1991 affirms that “the State
will provide conditions for the equality to be
real and effective, and will adopt measures
in favor of marginalized or discriminated
groups.” However, in the face of these
favorable Constitutional Court rulings on
LGBT rights, there are no definite laws
against discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation, condoning police
harassment of gays and lesbians by local
authorities which has been a common
occurrence, with transgendered people,
especially, being the target of a widespread
ridicule and stigmatization.  While still much
work needs to be done, Human Rights and
Equality Rights has taken a center stage
while many Central and South American, as
well as, other Middle Eastern  countries
embrace democratic ideals which help
secure and protect the lives of so many
LGBTQ people whose life is in danger due
to their sexual orientation.


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reproduce without citing this source
Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida's EDDIE SIERRA
addressing the delegation.