The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) recently held its World Board meeting in Toronto, gathering in Canada for the first time in the organisation’s history.
The ILGA World Board – LGBTI activists and human rights defenders from across the globe – were joined for the occasion by Randy Boissonnault, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Special Advisor on LGBTQ2S issues, and the meeting proved to be an important moment to highlight areas where Canada can take a more prominent leadership role in advancing LGBTI human rights globally.
As representatives of a worldwide federation of more than 1,200 LGBTI organisations from 132 countries, ILGA World Board members stressed with MP Boissonnault the need for alliances and stronger stands in support of LGBTI civil society across a variety of international spaces, including the United Nations, the Organisation of American States and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. The need to receive adequate financial support to strengthen organisation capacity, and respond effectively to a political climate adversely affecting the lives of LGBTI people worldwide, were also highlighted.
The situation of LGBTI persons in Canada took centre stage during the meeting, as ILGA cast light on various areas where the country can improve its legislations and policies. “There is still a lot of work to do,” said Helen Kennedy, co-Secretary General of ILGA and Executive Director of Egale Canada. “Gender recognition legislation along with protections for non-binary people, and gender markers other than F or M must be included in visa procedures for LGBTI persons travelling to our country.”
The Board pushed Boissonnault on the lack of inclusion of Intersex in his mandate, something that appears the Canadian Government is reticent to do. “Because their bodies don’t comply with typical definitions of male or female, intersex children and adults are very often subjected to non-consensual, medically unnecessary and irreversible surgeries and treatments,” ILGA co-Secretary General Ruth Baldacchino pointed out. “These are violations that lead to further injustices and discrimination in all aspects of intersex people’s lives.”
“We believe it’s necessary that the Special Advisor on LGBTQ2S issues adds intersex to his mandate and addresses the human rights violations faced by intersex people,” said Miriam van der Have, who represents the Intersex Secretariat at ILGA. “Intersex persons are almost completely invisible. And they will remain invisible, as long as society ignores their existence. For that reason, we call upon Randy Boissonnault to include intersex in his work, and to recognise that the violation of the right to bodily integrity of intersex people is a human rights violation.”