The advancement of human rights cannot happen in isolation; it requires networks and partnerships. People learn from each other’s experiences, and share their ideas and networks. This, in turn, helps build movements, and social movements can create lasting social change.
“CREA works in collaboration, and is a very good ally and partner. It is hard to locate whether CREA is a 'catalyst' or not. It does not try to take over the process, does not try to over-attribute, but instead, tries to always place its role with humility and balance.”
—Interviewee, Dancing on the Edge, CREA’s internal review document
Keeping this in mind, CREA has forged numerous partnerships across varied groups of people and organisations. Some of these are described below.
Since 2005, CREA has been a part of a global collaboration called the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI), which works at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish an expanded notion of gender and sexual rights and to increase the participation of global South activists within the UNHRC and its related bodies. The SRI is presently comprised of Action Canada for Population and Development, Canada; Akahatá, Latin America; Coalition of African Lesbians, Africa; CREA, India; Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egypt; and the Federation for Women and Family Planning, Poland. Past partners are International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, Nigeria; Mulabi, Argentina; and the Women's Initiative for Gender Justice, Netherlands.
In 2009, SRI, along with some other organisations, successfully spearheaded a new resolution on maternal mortality. The same year, in March, CREA facilitated the participation of sex workers in the 10th session of the UNHRC. It was the first time that sex workers attended an UNHRC session. In September 2010, CREA conducted a training for global South sexual rights activists during the 15th session of the UNHRC (with four other organisers). A CREA staff person was also a speaker at the high-level side event on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), which was co-sponsored by a cross-regional group of 13 states. CREA's presentation focussed on the Delhi High Court judgement on Section 377, the contributions of the coalition Voices against 377 (to which CREA belongs), and a range of SOGI-related violations in India.
CREA, in collaboration with Action Canada for Population and Development, International Service for Human Rights, Arc International, and the Youth Coalition, organizes advocacy training for global South sexual rights activists at the UNHRC. This programme is designed to develop their skills and confidence in advocating on a broad range of sexual rights issues at the UNHRC. The training involves a 2.5-day workshop by sexual rights advocates with years of experience at the Council and hands-on advocacy at the Council. Following the workshop, the activists in training participate in the Council session, conducting advocacy with States, with support from the training resource people. The first training took place during September 2010 in Geneva.
CREA, as part of SRI, works with local/national global South partners to produce Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on sexual rights for every UPR round. The UPR is a mechanism to review countries for human rights situations periodically. The objective is to bring attention to global South sexual rights issues and to build the capacities of Southern civil society actors to work with an HRC process. This work involves drafting a call for proposals and circulating it, evaluating the proposals and selecting one or two organisations/individuals per country, editing drafts of reports, producing the final versions of the reports and sending them to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. SRI also supports the participation of some of the researchers during the UPR sessions and during regular sessions when the Working Groups' reports on the UPR are being adopted.
CREA is an active part of Voices Against 377, a coalition of organisations and progressive groups articulating a united voice against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises same-sex behaviour in India. The fight against Section 377 is an issue of social justice affecting everyone, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation. This coalition aims to raise awareness about the violation of people’s fundamental rights and, specifically, the marginalisation and criminalisation of same-sex desiring people, including gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual communities. CREA has been at the forefront, working through the coalition, to ensure equal rights and privileges to people with same-sex desires.
On 22 November 2006, Voices Against 377 filed an intervention in the Delhi High Court, in support of the Naz Foundation’s stand to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts. On 2 July 2009, Section 377 was read down by the Court to decriminalise same-sex adult consensual sex. An appeal against this order is now pending in the Supreme Court of India.
Voices Against 377 has brought out a report, entitled Rights for All: Ending Discrimination against Queer Desire Under Section 377. The report focuses on the marginalisation of same-sex desire as seen from different perspectives—feminist, queer, and rights-based.
CREA is a founding member of Action Plus. Established in 1997, it is a network of 12 Indian NGOs working locally and globally on issues related to HIV/AIDS, and to promote sexual rights and health and the human rights of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Initially, Action Plus functioned largely as a forum for mutual support and capacity building among the members. As their expertise and experience grew, the coalition moved towards collaborative advocacy.
In 2008, Action Plus submitted a Charter of Patients’ Rights to the National Human Rights Commission, which advocates for the first comprehensive package of rights for all, particularly people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and sexual minorities. Action Plus lobbied with lawmakers at the International AIDS Conference in August 2008, for reforming Section 377. The coalition has also lobbied with policymakers on the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA), which regulates sex work without considering the rights of sex workers. In an effort to increase community dialogue and public recognition of these issues, CREA and Action Plus organised four People's Panchayats to discuss issues faced by people with alternative sexualities. At each Panchayat, organised in different cities in India, three or four members of the LGBTI community were posed in front of a Panch to depose the issues they faced in their communities. Action Plus has also been active in the international arena by serving on global committees of UNAIDS and other international organisations, advocating with diverse governments at the regional and international AIDS conferences.
Other Action Plus Members
- Centre for Development Initiatives (CDI), Mumbai
- Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore
- International Services Association, India (INSA), Bangalore -
- Nalamdana, Chennai -
- Point of View (POV), Mumbai -
- PRAYAS, Pune -
- Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM), Sangli -
- The Naz Foundation (India) Trust (Naz), New Delhi -
- The Service of Society Medical and Educational Foundation (SOS), Nasik
- Talking about Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI), New Delhi -
- Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP), Sangli
- YR Gaitonde Medical, Educational and research Foundation (YRG CARE) -
CREA is working towards influencing the ICPD+20 (International Conference on Population and Development) agenda. CREA will be reviewing the progress of the Programme of Action for improving the sexual health and reproductive rights of people across the world.
CREA is an active member of the ‘Core Committee to monitor the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005’ in India. Together with its partners in the core committee, consisting of Delhi-based women’s rights organisations that deal with gender and rights, CREA works to demand proper implementation of the Act by the Government of India.