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Regional groups warn CARICOM heads

Published:Friday | June 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM

ONE HUNDRED and forty Caribbean organisations purport-edly representing thousands of CARICOM nationals have warned leaders of the region against endorsing any recommendations that will fundamentally re-order society in negative ways that could jeopardise the future of "our children and our region".

The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS), which picks up the issue locally, says the organisations are responding to CARICOM press release 78/2014, dated April 11, 2014, which indicated that the heads of government will be presenting for endorsement, several actionable recommendations on eliminating HIV-related stigma and discri-mination. The recommendations were made following a regional HIV consultation earlier this year.

In a release yesterday, JCHS said the recommendations, which had been promoted under the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANPAP) Justice for All programme, include repealing laws criminal-ising consensual sexual acts between adults and making sexual orientation a protected category for non-discrimination.

However, in a letter dated June 24, 2014, to the secretary general and heads of government of CARICOM, the organisations called for transparency and accountability in the discussions leading up to the formulation of the recommendations.

The heads of government are scheduled to meet in Antigua from July 2-4. The organisations have argued that the manner in which these recommendations are being advanced is contrary to the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society.

The organisations said in the JCHS release that they have taken a firm stand against "the imposition on PANPAP politics which will fundamentally re-order society".

Continued the release: "We urge CARICOM heads of government to place the health and well-being of our societies as their top priority".