ORANJESTAD/PHILIPSBURG—Members of the St. Maarten/St. Martin Alliance For Equality (SAFE) Foundation attended the fifth annual Pink Orange Alliance (POA) conference, which took place from Friday, November 13 – Sunday, November 15th, 2015, on Aruba.
The conference, which has been held on an annual basis since the formation of the Pink Orange Alliance in 2010, was themed POA2-1, acknowledging that this is the second phase of the Pink Orange Alliance. The first phase, which lasted 4 years (2010-2014), concluded last year on St. Maarten.
POA is a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (lgbti) network, consisting of representatives of organizations from all of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and also the Netherlands. This year St. Maarten/ St. Martin Alliance for Equality (SAFE) was joined by Body Mind and Spirit – Saba (BMS), Fundashon Orguyo Korsou – Curacao (FOKO), EQ-Bonaire (EQ), Alternative Lifestyle Federation Aruba-Aruba (ALFA) and Center for Culture and Leisure-(COC). Born This Way representing St. Eustatius was not in attendance, but the group looks forward to participation from this organization in the future.
The various entities have been meeting under the POA umbrella since 2010, while working individually on their respective islands and in the Netherlands for equal rights for all LGBTI persons.
During this year’s conference the delegates discussed several topics, including funding, consultations with local and kingdom governments, engagements with religions and religious leaders, evidence based interventions and challenges that LGBT people, in particular youth face. Each island gave a presentation on what they had done in their communities in the past year and SAFE also provided insights concerning the Caribbean Women & Sexual Diversity Conference held in October 2015, noting the importance of regional interaction and support.
SAFE President, Lysanne Charles-Arrindell and Treasurer , Nadjesca Gumbs said that the conference was extremely interesting and informative.
“The POA conference as always highlights the need for further and more structured networking between the varies entities. It also allows us to understand better the complexities of LGBT experiences across the kingdom and areas where we can help each other,” Charles – Arrindell said.
The conference culminated with a viewing of the documentary “One Kingdom, One Love,” which followed the kingdom boat during the 2015 Amsterdam Gay Pride, but also featured clips from LGBT individuals on most islands.
“The movie was very thought-provoking and we are looking for ways to have it screened here on St. Maarten/St. Martin. We think that this movie can go a long way towards having people better understand the work that SAFE is doing and why,” Gumbs said.
POA is coordinated by Center for Culture and Leisure Netherlands (COC) and is funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) in the Netherlands. COC was able to secure funding for the next three years and in these coming years focus will be on LGBT youth (18-35) and the challenges they face including disclosure, societal & family pressures (stigma, discrimination, homeless, abuse, etc.) safety, education, self-stigma and self-harming, and suicide.
“This year there was two young people amongst us, one from Curacao and one from Aruba and we look forward to sending one of our young adults to represent SAFE at the next POA conference, because often their voices are not heard,” Charles – Arrindell said.
Gumbs explained that the next POA conference will take place on Curacao in 2016 and will include a youth component. She further explained that at the end of POA2-1 it was decided that the members of POA would work closely together during the upcoming year to increase their visibility using “media for advocacy” in order to reach LGBT people, their allies and the masses across the kingdom.
“This ties in with our upcoming, annual International Human Rights Day lecture, scheduled for December 10th at the University of St. Martin. SAFE believes that LGBTI rights and Human Rights are one and the same and that is why we have the International Lesbian & Gay Association-Regional Representative and United & Strong – Director, Kenita Placide and ARC International & United & Strong – Media Consultant, Maria Fontenelle coming to present on regional activism and activity and media advocacy. So we are already inviting the public of to this event, which starts at 7.30pm,” Charles-Arrindell said.
For further information on St. Maarten/ St. Martin Alliance for Equality you can visit the page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/safe.sxm, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +1-721-550-4221.