Jerume — Advocate and Social Activist for LGBTI Rights in Nicaragua

Jerume — Advocate and Social Activist for LGBTI Rights in Nicaragua

Jerume is a social activist and sociology student at the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean.

Although only 22 years old, Jerume Peter Terrero Collins has been active in local organizations and social causes for more than a decade. Since he was 11, Jerume has been involved in local youth organizations in his hometown of Bilwi on Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean coast. Now as a young man and a fourth-year student of sociology at the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean (URACCAN), he describes himself as a social activist and warrior for those who are marginalized in his community.

Jerume is interested in a number of issues affecting his community from the discrimination experienced by people with disabilities to the erosion of indigenous cultures along the Caribbean Coast. But the topic he feels most passionately about is defending the rights of LGBTI people in Bilwi and other communities along the Caribbean coast.

In his role as an activist, Jerume works to raise awareness and sensitize people about issues faced by the LGBTI community. In addition to working locally, he is a regular participant in the LGBTI pride marches and events that take place every June in Managua, the country’s capital. As a student of sociology, he has combined his commitment for LGBTI issues with his studies. Working with the Center for Studies and Information on Multiethnic Women at his university, he has started doing research on how stigma and discrimination affects LGBTI communities on the Caribbean Coast.

Jerume in a regular participant in LGBTI pride marches and events that take place locally and in the capital Managua.

As an Afro-descendant himself, Jerume understands that LGBTI communities on the Caribbean Coast face unique challenges. In this region there is “double discrimination” towards LGBTI people — first because of their sexual orientation and second because of their ethnic identity. Bilwi and the surrounding communities are home to both large populations of Afro-descendant Creoles and native indigenous communities where more traditional and conservative values prevail. This makes living as an openly gay person extremely challenging.

Due to his activism and research, Jerume is well known in his community and he has become a local resource for people. He regularly sees the consequences of stigma and discrimination of LGBTI people in his community, including physical aggression and assault as well as institutional discrimination. “[LGBTI] people who are doing nothing but standing on the street are subject to verbal harassment or physical aggression,” he says.

When he sees and hears these stories, he encourages people to speak out. “Many are silent and that’s when I urge them to file a complaint with the Human Rights Ombudsman and the office aimed at protecting the rights of sexual diversity,” he explains.

Unfortunately, due to widespread institutional discrimination against LGBTI people, platforms for voicing their complaints — such as the courts and police — are limited. “We experience this type of institutional discrimination, when we make a complaint to the police and they make fun of us, or in the courts when they continually delay the process without reason,” Jerume says.

Jerume and Nicactivism finalists
Jerume with the other young finalists presenting their ideas at the Nicactivism competition.

All of these experiences of discrimination spurred Jerume to enter the Nicactivism contest. Sponsored by Global Communities through the USAID Local Governance Program, the competition promotes the use of digital tools available to young activists in Nicaragua. After various interviews and meetings, Jerume was thrilled to find out he had been selected as one of the 15 finalists at the national level. “It is an innovative contest anad we have created strong alliances between the participants. A lot of attention has been given to each activist both in the cities where we come from, but in other cities as well,” says Jerume. “I am happy to be participating in Nicactivism because now people in Bilwi are seeking me out; people — especially young people — want me to talk about the issues that affect us in our region.”

Jerume is proud that he has been able to have a positive impact on the young people around him in Bilwi and throughout Nicaragua. Even those who do not know him personally now follow him through his social networks. He is determined to continue to be a warrior fighting for human rights.