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ILGA Co-Secretaries General’s speech at the opening ceremony of the XXVI ILGA World Conference

Read here the speech of Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini, ILGA Co-Secretaries General, delivered at the opening ceremony of the 26th ILGA World Conference held in Stockholm 12-16 December 2012

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

26th December 2012 15:36

Alessia Valenza

Stockholm, 12 December 2012

Gloria Careaga: Honoured guests and friends,

It is an honour, a privilege, but above all a pleasure to welcome you all to the 26th Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Renato Sabbadini: In every membership based organization, the conference represents the climax of the life of the association, the moment when members meet to renew their allegiance to one another and the commitment to the mission enshrined in the constitution, and when they pave all together the way to the future.

GC: This is even truer for an organization like ILGA, where most of its 950 members rarely have the opportunity to meet in such large numbers and the very fact that this one – with more than 400 accredited participants – is indeed the largest conference ever in the 34 years of ILGA’s life goes to the credit of our funding supporters, in primis the Swedish International Development Agency, and to the hard work of our hosting partners, RFSL, especially its President Ulrika Westerlund and its Executive Director and our board member Maria Sjödin.

RS: When in São Paulo two years ago the conference voted for Stockholm 2012, knowing the combination of strengths provided by RFSL’s energy and SIDA’s growing support for ILGA, we knew already that we would have had quite a conference, but dear friends the organisational result we are witnessing in these days goes well beyond our rosiest expectations!

GC: For this Conference, we have chosen “Global Rights, Global Respect” as the theme of the conference. On the one hand, because for all of us being here together will be really an incomparable opportunity to share and learn from the experience of people and organizations from all regions in the world, and to create stronger and sustainable networks – an ideal opportunity for all to strategize, network and build alliances together to advance our rights in the world!

RS: On the other hand, we have chosen the theme because it is evident that we as a movement have some challenges and important discussions ahead of us – especially on how we as a movement can act in solidarity without taking over and talking over the voices of those we advocate for: A central issue for an international, membership based and democratic LGBTI umbrella organisation, whose representativeness cannot rely solely on its long history and on its large size, or on the success of its conferences, but must come from the active, continuing involvement and commitment of all its members throughout the time from one conference to the next.

GC: And this conference is not only the largest ever, it sees also another both humbling and delightful first for ILGA: the presence of the Head of the Government of the hosting country. Of course, this comes as no surprise for most LGBTI activists in the world. Indeed that a country like Sweden – with its remarkable record in terms of equality, advancement and protection of women’s rights in general and, increasingly, of LGBT rights – would want to express its support to the cause of LGBTI equality everywhere in the world also by means of its Prime Minister’s presence at an international LGBTI conference was to be expected.

RS: As we said, it is no surprise, but we are nevertheless genuinely moved by the Prime Minister’s participation here: indeed this is a concrete sign for all of us that an increasing number of governments are committed to our cause and that the number of friends of LGBTI people in the world is growing, a concrete sign that fighting for equality bears its fruits and that there is hope for all those who decide to stand for their rights, because one day or the other the prime minister of every country will follow this example here today and take part to the opening ceremony of an LGBTI conference.

GC: But we are not finished with ILGA’s firsts yet! We are very proud and happy to host at this conference the second edition of the Go Visible Award, bestowed by the LGBT Intergroup of the European Parliament to an organisation or individual for recently creating or making sustainable an organisation or campaign for the human rights of LGBTI people, particularly in hostile contexts. Indeed the first edition of this award also took place at an ILGA Conference, in Vienna in 2008, and what will take place on Sunday is a triple ceremony, as MEP Ulrike Lunacek will bestow three Go Visible awards, one for each of the last three years.

RS: But we are also most proud and happy to take advantage of this conference – indeed of this very opening ceremony – to launch the very first edition of the ILGA Award for highly commendable achievements in the struggle for LGBTI equality.

GC: And it did not take long for the Executive Board of ILGA to decide unanimously that this very first edition of the ILGA Award should go to Her Excellency Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina, for the key role played by Argentina in recent years in promoting the universal decriminalization of homosexuality at the United Nations, and in particular for her personal continuing commitment in the process that led to the adoption of the equal Marriage Act and of the Law on Gender Identity.

RS: It will be remembered that:

• the UN Ambassador of Argentina on December 18 2008 at the UN General Assembly read the Statement signed by 66 countries calling for decriminalisation of homosexuality;

GC: • thanks to the Equal Marriage Act same-sex couples in Argentina are eligible for the same benefits and protections as heterosexual couples (including adoption); Argentina is thus the first country in Latin America, the second in the Americas and the tenth in the world to legalise same-sex marriage;

RS: • the Law on Gender Identity grants adults sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as a part of their public or private health care plans, and also allows for changes to gender, image, or birth name, on civil registries without the approval of a doctor or a judge.

GC: It is the belief of ILGA that while on the one hand these laws have become models that many countries will hopefully imitate in the future, on the other hand LGBTI activists and human rights defenders around the world are sure to have in Argentina one of its strongest allies.

RS: And we are very honoured that the Vicepresident of Argentina, His Excellency Dr Amado Boudou, will collect the award on behalf of President Férnandez de Kirchner here today.

GC: Indeed this conference is setting quite some standards for all of us in the future, though this need not to be seen necessarily as a challenge to future conferences to do better, but rather a genuine heartfelt wish, a sign of encouragement and – why not? – a good omen to all future hosting cities. Hosting an ILGA conference means a lot of work for the hosting organisation, but also a lot of opportunities: at the national and local level with the relevant authorities and media, at the international level with other like minded NGOs. But first and foremost hosting an ILGA Conference means knowing that you will have made feel at home friends and comrades from all over the world, who will go back to their countries with a deeper connection in their minds and in their hearts with you, your culture and your country.
Saying so, let´s celebrate ourselves and enjoy the Conference.

[bestowing of the award]

RS: Excelencias Presidente Boudou y Senador Férnandez:

Argentina es un país con una historia difícil, cuyo pueblo enfrentó una dictadura cruel en un pasado no muy lejano, y cuyo bienestar fue chantajeado por organismos financieros muy potentes, tanto privados como públicos. Nuestro trabajo en la arena internacional a lo largo de los años, nos ha permitido observar cómo el gobierno Argentino ha ido moviendo su posición desde una rígida y conservadora, hasta un decidido compromiso con el respeto de los derechos humanos y una mirada más comprensiva a las necesidades globales.

GC: Ver también cómo el pueblo de Argentina se ha enfrentado a estas adversidades con valentía y fortaleza, para defender sus derechos y restablecer la dignidad de una nación orgullosa es para nosotros motivo de admiración y empatía. Lo que es más admirable es que en estas luchas no se ha olvidado de las y los más marginados, – por el contrario, ellas y ellos se convirtieron en las y los más fuertes aliados de las fuerzas del cambio.

RS: Es así que ha sido también para las lesbianas, gays y personas trans de Argentina, que sus reivindicaciones de igualdad de derechos han sido entendidas como no diferentes de las de cualquier otro ser humano. Es para nosotros, un honor hoy reconocer y admirar la firmeza del pueblo argentino, de sus organizaciones LGBTI y de su Presidenta, quien ha sido capaz de encarnar estas demandas de justicia e igualdad y transformarlas en realidad.

GC: Para ninguno de nosotros es desconocido que Argentina ha asumido un papel de liderazgo en los últimos años para impulsar la despenalización universal de la homosexualidad en las distintas instancias de las Naciones Unidas, y en particular queremos hoy señalar también su personal compromiso en la adopción del matrimonio igualitario en Julio 15 de 2010 y la Ley de Identidad de Género de Mayo 9 del presente año.

RS: Es nuestra creencia que estas leyes pueden ser un modelo que muchos países podrían imitar en el futuro, pero también que para muchos activistas de todo el mundo implica que tenemos un de nuestros más fuertes aliados en Argentina.

GC: Pero estos logros no hubieran sido posible sin esa lucha conjunta donde destaca el trabajo comprometido de nuestros colegas y organizaciones activistas en la defensa de nuestros derechos. Queremos hoy reconocer también el inmenso trabajo de nuestros miembros Pedro Paradiso-Sottile, representante regional de ILGA, como el de Diana Sacayán, Lohana Berkins y tantos otros que han logrado levantar la voz hasta ser escuchados y tomados en cuenta para contribuir en la transformación de su Nación y en la construcción de un mundo mejor.

RS: Tenemos la seguridad de que las voces juntas de autoridades y activistas conforman una bella sinfonía que cada día queremos disfrutar en cada lugar y rincón del mundo para una vida más justa y digna para todos.

GC: Con este Premio, ILGA hace reconocimiento a esos esfuerzos conjuntos, que sin su compromiso político no hubiera sido posible y da la bienvenida a estos refrescantes nuevos aires hacia un mundo mejor para todos. Muchas felicidades y nuestro profundo y respetuoso reconocimiento.