50 activists, 30 countries and 4 days of advocacy

 

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and far too little sleep after a jam-packed week of meetings at the United Nations with 50 determined LGBTI activists from 21 countries. Under the banner of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the activists shared their most pressing concerns with government representatives from more than 30 countries and four U.N. agencies, including with representatives from countries hostile to LGBT issues.

On Wednesday, International Human Rights Day, members of IGLHRC’s delegation spoke at a high-level LGBT event at U.N. Headquarters** This moving session, ‘Love is a Family Value: Supporting All Family Members and Families,’ featured the singer Mary Lambert, who performed her inspiring anthem “She Keeps Me Warm.” Deputy Secretary-General of the U.N. Jan Eliasson said: “If we are faithful to our values and to our ideals, love and care in families must naturally extend to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.”

A day earlier, a delegation met with national and N.Y.C. media outlets, including ABC News, Huffington Post, Gay City News and a separate meeting at The New York Times on HIV/AIDS and our work for human rights.

The delegation also participated in Quorum a day long event at the New York Public Library hosted by The Daily Beast with HBO to amplify voices of LGBT leaders worldwide.  This was a star-studded day highlighting human rights activism and I was proud to join the interviewees on stage in a segment with Alice Nkom, a Cameroonian human rights lawyer who advocates for LGBTI rights.

Despite biting cold, snow and icy rain, activists from Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, St. Lucia, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Zambia, and Zimbabwe gathered early every morning to strategize before heading off to raise their voices about the issues most important to them at the United Nations Development Program, UNAIDS, UNICEF, and UN Women, and with representatives of 30 member states.

On the eve of her arrival, Kenita Placide of United and Strong in St. Lucia, had her offices ransacked and vandalized. Despite this, she said: “I will continue being a voice” for LGBTI people in the Caribbean. And she did, powerfully, along with the others.

Governments and U.N. agencies listened to the activists and some made commitments to do more and better to confront violence, homelessness among LGBT youth, and to push for recognition of the rights of transgender and intersex children, among many other issues.

Because of advocacy by IGLHRC and our partners, the United Nations is becoming more and more open to recognition of LGBTI people and aware of our issues and concerns. And this has an impact in countries around the world. Chile, as an example, now allows transgender children to go to school as the gender they are and under their chosen names. This, in part, is a result of advocacy at the United Nations—a very real impact on people’s lives, rights and dignity. But of course there is much more to do and many more issues to raise.

We can only do this work when we have resources, including money. So I ask you today to please support our work with a donation.

Warmly,

Jessica Stern
Executive Director