A New Year’s mes­sage from United and Strong

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

we be­gin a new year, the Board of Direc­tors and staff of United and Strong Inc. thank you for ac­com­pa­ny­ing us on our jour­ney in 2014. In this, the fif­teenth year of our ex­is­tence, it is even more ap­pro­pri­ate than ever to look back at the road trav­elled with grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion, as we note achieve­ments on all fronts of ad­vo­cacy around the full re­al­iza­tion of the hu­man rights of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and in­ter­sex peo­ple in Saint Lu­cia.

Among the sig­nif­i­cant ad­vances was the ap­point­ment of an in­terim board, re­cently made per­ma­nent. We also said goodbye to a valu­able staff mem­ber and wel­comed in a new one.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion re­in­forced and ex­panded its con­nec­tions lo­cally, in­sti­tut­ing new mea­sures to in­form mem­ber­ship and en­cour­age in­volve­ment in our work. United and Strong also went out to the pub­lic, with open events and the dis­sem­i­na­tion of free safer sex com­modi­ties. The events com­mit­tee be­gan strongly and re­mained our most ac­tive team; pro­vid­ing a vi­tal so­cial out­let for marginalised LGBTI Saint Lu­cians.

In 2014, we also reached out to politi­cians, com­mu­nity and cor­po­rate lead­ers and in­flu­encers as part of our ef­forts to af­fect pol­icy change.

In­creas­ing ca­pac­ity re­gion­ally has for the past few years been a con­stant with United and Strong and this year we or­gan­ised two ma­jor ca­pac­ity-build­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Work on re­gional ad­vo­cacy through Car­iFLAGS grew this year, as did our in­volve­ment with the In­ter­na­tional Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, and Trans As­so­ci­a­tion and ILGA Latin Amer­ica/Caribbean.

The man­age­ment of United and Strong made sev­eral in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances in the past year, us­ing pow­er­ful global fo­rums to re­mind the world of the re­stricted free­doms of LGBTI per­sons in the English speak­ing Caribbean and the re­pres­sive laws that con­tinue to crim­i­nalise our choice of part­ners. We en­sured the LGBTI peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia and the Caribbean were part of the con­ver­sa­tion on the world stage.

We am­pli­fied our voice in 2014, reach­ing more peo­ple in Saint Lu­cia and across the world with a vi­brant me­dia pres­ence and achiev­ing a mea­sur­able in­crease in our reach in 2014.

The Board of Direc­tors and staff of United and Strong Inc. thank our fun­ders for their support in 2014 that has made much of our work pos­si­ble. We sin­cerely and heartily thank those who have been the con­stants, the bedrock, of our work - the LGBTI com­mu­nity of Saint Lu­cia and the Caribbean and our lo­cal, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional ad­vo­cacy part­ners.

We look for­ward to this year with hope of con­tin­ued fruit­ful part­ner­ships and we un­der­take to con­tinue to stand with the com­mu­nity, united and strong in 2015, un­der our theme “Ed­u­cate, Tol­er­ance and Love”.

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