Imagine waking up every day knowing that in your own country you are considered a criminal just for being who you are. That is how I have felt my whole life. Until now.

In December last year, in a case I brought with my colleague and fellow claimant Raven Gill, the Barbados High Court struck down the criminalising laws that had cast a long shadow over our lives. It was a long, transformative journey for us, and we are truly thankful for the unwavering support of the Human Dignity Trust along the way.

The experience of being criminalised in my own country had a deeply distressing effect on my mental and physical wellbeing. It created an atmosphere of fear and prejudice and left me questioning how a legal system that perpetuated my discrimination could possibly ensure my protection.

Together with local and regional LGBT+ activists, we filed our case in January 2020. The Trust collaborated with our local legal team and engaged their global Legal and Bar Panels, bringing world-class pro bono expertise to the table.

Often, in cases like ours, it can be easy to feel side-lined as the lawyers handle the proceedings. However, the Trust’s legal team kept checking in on me, keeping me informed about any developments. They made me feel cared for and heard during what was a daunting process.

It can be scary taking on a case like this. I found the publicity on our win challenging and there were times when I feared for my safety. I deeply appreciated the moral support the Trust gave me. They went above and beyond, even organising time out of Barbados, allowing me to take a moment to breathe and recover. This respite – in the centre of this intense ordeal – was a crucial lifeline.

I have never felt such joy and elation as I did when we received the final decision. It was not just a victory for the LGBT+ community, but for all the people of Barbados, taking a huge stride towards a more inclusive society. I was so relieved that the shadow of criminalisation was no longer hanging over us and I am proud to share this triumph with the Trust, the legal team, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, and all of the Caribbean activists involved.

This Pride season, as we celebrate the progress we have achieved, we must remember all the people who are still living under the shadow of criminalisation. 66 countries still criminalise the lives of my LGBT+ siblings, and we are witnessing distressing regressions of LGBT+ rights in far too many countries across the world.

Please consider donating to the Human Dignity Trust this Pride season. With your help, more activists, like Raven and I, can get the expertise and support they need to challenge these discriminatory laws.

Thanks to a generous donor who has pledged to match donations during Pride month, if you give today, your donation will be doubled, allowing you to make twice the difference in the fight for equality and justice.

In solidarity, resilience and with gratitude,

René Holder-McClean-Ramirez, claimant in Barbados decriminalisation case.

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