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ILGA - Supporting the Brazilian resolution

in WORLD, 04/06/2004

ILGA at the UNCHR: A brief collection of achievements

In April 2003, Brazil presented a resolution on sexual orientation at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva (UNCHR). The text bans all discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and simply asserts that sexual diversity is an integral part of Universal Human Rights.

ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association is an international network of activists created in 1978. It has been actively involved with the United Nations for a number of years: the first speech mentioning homosexuality in an UN forum was made in its name in august 1992.

Following is a brief list of the actions taken by ILGA in 2003 and 2004 to support the brazilian resolution. More info can be found on brazilianresolution.com. Please click here for information on ILGA's efforts at the United Nations in 2005.

ILGA World Conference in Manilla
November 2003, Manilla (the Philippines). During their World Conference, the members of ILGA, decided to support the Brazilian resolution and praised the resolution as an historic move. The conference voted for the notion of "gender identity" to be included in the final version of the resolution to be proposed by Brazil at the UNCHR next March. Claudia Roth, Member of Parliament and Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Foreign Office, Germany was present in Manilla, met with LGBT activists and gave the final speech of the Conference.

Networking with a coalition of LGBT and Human Rights groups
A strategy meeting was organized by ARC International and ACPD in Rio de Janeiro in December 2003. International LGBT organisations such as IGHLRC and ILGA met with national LGBT organisations from the Southern hemisphere and international human rights organisations (ACPD, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International). A common campaign to support the Brazilian resolution emerged. The “coalition worked well ahead of the UNCHR session in order to lobby nations sitting in Geneva. In 2004, a stronger and larger coalition met again in Geneva early december.

Following the Rio NGO strategy meeting, ILGA Co-Secretary-General Kursad Kahramanoglu spent a week in Argentina in order to organize lobbying along with local activists and meet leading Argentinean politicians. With local ILGA member CHA (Comunidad Homosexual Argentina), he met with Dr. Rodolfo Mattarollo, the Head of the Cabinet for the Secretary for Human Rights to the National Minister of Justice, Security and Human rights and then with Dr. Rafael A. Bielsa, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Both assured the Argentinean governement would support the resolution.

Action-site: www.brazilianresolution.com
A website was set up to comunicate specifically on the brazilian resolution and on ILGA’s position regarding the inclusion of gender identity. Available in 7 languages, it was broadly publicized with an information campaign towards all 400 ILGA members to pass on the news in their countries, specialised (LGBT media, including websites) and main stream medias. A new version of the site will re-launch the petition and try to draw even more attention to the resolution.

The petition
The action site also called people and organizations to sign up a petition in favour of the Brazilian resolution or of any text that would specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights in the United Nations.

35 000 answered the first call for petition in a three month period. 2/3 of them left email addresses. A second call for petition asked the latter to call on their friends to sign the petition and resulted in an adittional 10 000 signatures to the petition.

The petition also gave an official opportunity to meet the Chairman of the Commission, Australian Ambassador Mike Smith at the beginning of the UNCHR session in order to have a better understanding of the situation regarding the Brazilian resolution. It was then decided to leave the petition open til the following year.

Spreading the word: www.ilga.org and the e-newsletters
A serie of emails were sent to the “petitionees” giving regular updates on the resolution. While these e-newsletters gave basic information, they were directly linked to ILGA’s websites (www.brazilianresolution.com and www.ilga.org) which provided in depth articles. The whole process was designed to have readers appropriating the UN process as theirs and having them feel as part of a larger network of people concerned by LGBT rights.

ILGA team in Geneva
ILGA organised a team of activists to come to Geneva in order to attend the 60th session of the UNCHR. Thanks to a grant from the German Foreign Office with the good work, a dozen activists from countries as different as the Fiji Islands, Sri Lanka, China or Brazil were able to directly get in touch with their national delegations within the UN. ILGA’s team was part of a broader LGBT presence, resulting in the biggest LGBT group ever to be present at an UNCHR meeting. As a result, a great number of speeches were given within the Commission on the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity.

ILGA was officially invited by the GRULAC, the UN Latin American and Caribbean group. Brazil expressed its continued commitment to the resolution on Sexual orientation and Human Rights. Thanks to an invitation by Minister Sergio Cerda, head of the Argentinean delegation at the UN, a panel of activists led by ILGA had the opportunity to expose their concerns on human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Rosanna Flamer Caldera, co-Secretary general of ILGA officially asked the members of GRULAC to consider co-sponsoring the resolution next year.

UNCHR on www.ilga.org
A specific section of the information site collates all information regarding the Brazilian resolution. It includes speeches given by activists during the UNCHR session, official UN documents such as the list of countries voting next year, press releases by ILGA and other NGO who participated in the coalition.
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