The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) mourns the deaths of two prominent transgender activists from the Latin American region.
Nadia Echazu died on July 18, 2004, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Salta, Argentina, Nadia was one of the most prominent leaders of the national transvestite (*) movement. In 1995, together with other activists like Lohana Berkins and Maria Belen Correa, they founded ATA (Asociacion de Travestis Argentinas) the first trans organization in the country to achieve visibility and political effectiveness. ATA was one of the main forces behind the repeal of the Police Edicts, local ordinances that allowed Buenos Aires police to arrest people without charging them with any offense and keep them locked for up to a month in 1997. Nadia was particularly courageous in her struggle against police brutality, to the extent that her life was threatened many times; she was repeatedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse by local police. She always denounced those incidents, in spite of reprisals.
Marcela Prado died on July 23, 2004, in Curibita, Parana, Brazil. Mercela joined the LGBT movement in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil in 1987, when she started attending consciousness-raising groups. In 1992, she was among the founders of today's most important LGBT organization in that Brazilian state, Grupo Dignidade. In 1995, she was among the founders of ABGLT, the national coalition of LGBT groups in Brazil. At the moment of her death, she was Vice-President of Grupo Dignidade. ;Marcela was also very involved with the National STD and AIDS Program implemented by the Brazilian Minister of Health. She worked professionally for the Health Department in Curitiba designing and supervising the implementation of STD/AIDS Prevention Programmes for transgender people, gay men and sex workers.
TRANS RIGHTS ACTIVISTS APPLAUD HRC BOARD
by: Paisley Currah, Transgender Law & Policy Institute
The Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign voted to adopt a policy to support ENDA only if it is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Board voted to take this historic position after hearing from transgender activists, Congressional staffers, and HRC staff.
"We are extremely pleased that the HRC board has taken this historic step that will strengthen and unify the LGBT community," said Kylar Broadus, a Transgender Law and Policy Institute board member and one of the activists at Saturday's meeting. "We're looking forward to working closely with HRC and our allies in Congress to build support for and to pass a unified non-discrimination bill."
"This is a natural evolution for HRC," said Shannon Minter, TLPI board member and Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights who was also at the meeting. "Especially since changing its mission statement to include transgender people in 2001, HRC has made advocating on behalf of transgender and gender non-conforming people an integral part of its work. Today's vote has taken that commitment to a new level."
Transgender activists have been pushing for the inclusion of gender identity and expression since ENDA was first introduced in 1994.
Global AIDS and the 'theology of a few'
Donald E. Messer
When a former U.S. president's son, Ron Reagan, contended at the Democratic National Convention in Boston last month that "the theology of a few is harming the health of the many," he could have been speaking about global AIDS rather than stem-cell research.
At the 15th International AIDS Congress in Bangkok, it was evident that theological taboos have contributed to the escalating HIV/AIDS crisis. At a time when more than 40 million worldwide are infected, nearly 50 percent of them women, the religious roots of this disease must be examined to determine how the theological thinking of some has caused widespread harm to many.
These theological taboos include not talking openly about sex, preventing people from understanding how to prevent the disease. Second, moralistic judgments toward infected persons and their families have added to society's stigmatization. Third, religious prejudice toward sex workers, injection-drug users, gay men and others has contributed to discrimination. Silence, stigma and discrimination keep people from getting tested and treated.