SAFE looks to foster stronger community ties in 2015

POSTED: 01/15/15 2:02 PM

St. Maarten -SAFE SXM reiterated yesterday that it is open to dialogue, with any and all members of the community, as long as these conversations are carried out in a courteous manner. Already there have been discussions with religious and political leaders, though the board believes that these are not nearly enough.

SAFE is the local watchdog for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on the island. “In the upcoming year, more of these discussions will be attempted in order to come to a better understanding and perhaps even cooperation. Union leaders and school boards will also be contacted in order to dialogue about how to make safe spaces for LGBT youth in order for them to learn and become their best selves,” the board of SAFE said yesterday as they listed their plans for this new year 2015.

The organization said that it only looked forward to more events and better things in this upcoming year. While the organization is still a very young one (launched in December 2013), the board opined that a lot has been achieved in the past 12+ months. Among these they cited the fostering of local, regional and international partnerships and noted that contact has been made with a number of relevant entities on the island. These partnerships will be further explored and cemented in the coming years and local partnerships will also be concretized. There have been social events, including meet and greets, hikes, parties, and general meetings and educational events, including discussion evenings, workshops (abroad and locally), a booth at the annual Lions Health Fair, radio interviews, a theatrical production and the inaugural International Human Rights Day Lecture; all with the aim of bringing LGBT people closer together and building a strong LGBT community here on the island. There is also the Facebook community where there is continued interaction and sharing of information.

“Most importantly, awareness has been raised about LGBT people on St. Maarten/St. Martin and the need for further dialogue in order to move forward in a way that is beneficial to us and respectful of our human rights,” SAFE board explained.  The board acknowledges that while there were considerable successes, there were also areas where obstacles and challenges were encountered and projects that had less impact than intended. “There are also areas that still need the board’s attention in order to have improvement and these will certainly be addressed in 2015. However, the board wishes to repeat that  these things can only be accomplished if all hands are on deck and LGBT people and allies are available to constructively help make our organization a safe, supportive, social and educational space and place, where people can come and hang out, and grow communally, spiritually and intellectually. This organization can only continue to grow and develop if we have consistency, honesty and support,” the SAFE board noted.

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