CAISO launches report on support for LGBTQI+ community

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE

The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) released its first report, Insights from Wholeness and Justice, on Tuesday.

At a press conference, CAISO emphasised support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community. It intends to present a report annually.

The report was presented as part of the events to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), on May 17, to commemorate the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by the General Assembly of the World Health Organization on May 17, 1990.

CAISO director Dr Angelique Nixon said the report was released to the general public through the website http://caisott.org.

The Wholeness and Justice programme includes legal support for clients experiencing acts of discrimination or abuse; clinical (psychosocial) support to members of the LGBTQI+ community, who may experience traumatic events, require mental support while accessing other services, or need assistance in managing day-to-day challenges, with the aim of responding to these needs; wholeness development-guidance and support in managing the challenges of daily life, including financial planning, exercise and activity routines, connecting with service providers, and engaging with different agencies and bodies.

“In addition, Wholeness and Justice is committed to engaging community development initiatives and working to build capacity among service providers accessed by LGBTQI+ people,” she said.

For the period December 2020-2021, the programme completed 42 intake assessments based on the needs identified by community members and the services provided by the programme. Thirty-three of them were enlisted as clients. The nine who did not become clients were provided with suggestions for other service providers.

The majority of clients required clinical service, followed by those who required both legal and clinical services.

The report said 16 people asked ford legal consultation. Another three received support in preparating legal complaints and another three help with preparating witness statements.

“Out of the 16 persons who engaged with the community lawyer for a consultation, even on a preliminary basis, 11 of them went on to become clients of the programme. Three persons who were eligible to become client, chose not to engage the programme, while the remaining two persons were ineligible to receive services from Wholeness and Justice and were consequently advised of more appropriate services.

“Different forms of domestic violence have been presented by people who have approached the programme,” Nixon said.

The programme enlisted three clients who experienced intimate partner violence (IPV), which included harassment, threats (to life, property and reputation), withholding property, and disseminating intimate photographs and videos.

Family violence is another form of domestic violence experienced. The programme currently supports two clients who have experienced family violence.

The report said clients commonly suffered from anxiety and depression. These were often rooted in trauma, systemic violation and unhealthy relationships.

Trans women, in particular, are targets of physical and life-threatening violence.

“At least four of our clients have reported experiences of these. Clients present with long histories of enduring and endurance trauma. Notably, a number of clients presented one or more clinical issues,” said the report.

“Wholeness and Justice’s work with members of the LGBTQI+ community revealed a specific need for a sense of community to aid in developing and sustaining identity and self-advocacy,” said Nixon.

The Wholeness and Justice programme aims to build the capacity of service providers in Trinidad and Tobago so that members of the LGBTQI+ community can be included and served without facing discrimination.