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Friday, 5 February 2010

Guatamalan gay activist to visit London for pro-bono mission

Source: Pink Paper - 4 February

By Oli Balcazar

A gay activist from Guatemala will arrive in London this weekend for a pro-bono mission with politicians, can report.

Jorge Lopez will visit the capital from the 8 to 9th February to raise awareness of the desperate situation for LGBT communities in Central America, plus make alliances with the European LGBT groups and meet with supportive politicians.

Lopez is director of Guatemla City-based organisation OASIS, which run a programme of services, training and advice for the LGBT community, as well as documenting and reporting the severe human rights violations, exclusion and discrimination that LGBT people face in the country.

"The Guatemalan government has given clear indications of its lack of interest in guaranteeing the right to life, physical integrity, freedom, and the security of sexually diverse communities," says López, who has received numerous threats, assaults and spurious criminal charges while campaigning for OASIS. "But above all it has demonstrated its incapacity to fulfil its obligation to impart justice."

Peace Brigades International (PBI) have invited Lopez to visit London and Madrid to rouse political support and highlight the dire situation for LGBT people in Guatemala. The PBI have provided protective accompaniment to OASIS since 2006, following the murder of one of the organisation's transgender members, Paulina. Her friend Zulma was also seriously injured in the attack but survived as the main witness, although the case has still not come to trial. Witnesses alleged that the attackers were officers of the National Civil Police.

“Jorge and OASIS are often the only source of support for what is an extremely vulnerable group in Guatemala,” said former PBI accompanier, Emma Marshall. “It’s crucial that their ability to carry out this work is protected.”

In early 2009, López was arrested and charged with criminal acts after denouncing irregularities by the Public Prosecutor's Office. The case against him was thrown out in September 2009, when the judge found the charges to be without basis.


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