In a gathering in Bogota, Colombia on Nov. 19, 40 human rights lawyers from across Latin America launched an innovative “Red Litigio LGBT” – an LGBT Litigation Network – in order to guarantee the rights of LGBT persons in 13 Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
Despite many legal victories, especially in terms of recognition of same-sex couples rights such as in Argentina and in Colombia, much work is needed throughout the Latin American world.
In Bolivia, Paraguay and Venezuela there is little to no recognition of LGBT rights with governments advocating to restrict rights, while activists in countries such as Brazil with LGBT rights on the books fear a chipping away of rights and an increase on anti-LGBT violence under the presidency anti-gay president Jair Bolsonaro.
Organizers say that over the past five years, there have been at least 1,300 murders of LGBT persons in Latin America. That translates to four each day.
This group of legal experts has an ambitious agenda. They have identified the following goals for the member countries: ensuring that LGBT relationships are decriminalized, allowing for public displays of affection among same-sex couples, full marriage and adoption rights, gender identity protection laws and combatting impunity in homicide cases.
There are plans to expand the scope to a further eight Latin American countries in the near future.
This initiative is the work of four organizations in the region: Colombia Diversa, Promsex, Cattrachas and Dejusticia and the initial meeting was supported by ARCUS, the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.