|Stephen Barris, ILGA(English)|
|Stephen Barris, ILGA(French)|
|Stephen Barris, ILGA|
|Stephen Barris, ILGA(Portuguese)|
Toni Reis, representative from Grupo DIGNIDADE, coordinator of the 5th regional conference of ILGA-LAC tells us about the conference's organization process, its achievements and its goals.
Organizing an ILGA LAC regional conference in Brazil with the participation of the 33 countries of the continent was quite a challenge. We had the support of the brazilian goverment, its secretariat for human rights, for women's policies and for racism issues. We gathered 416 representatives from every country in the region, including the Caribbean which was quite ambitious. Besides, we gathered activists from eight of the eleven countries where being homosexual is still a crime.
We benefitted from the support of three UN's agencies, ONUSida, PNUD and OPAS, the Pan American organization for Health. This was of course essential for the organization. We also have had the support from the government of Parana and the city of Curitiba. The participation of allies is central in this type of process.
We have scholars from every country on the continent with a great representation of lesbians. This was a priority since the first moment as well as was the participation of trans persons. We have here both male and female Trans. This aims at empowering our community.
We first thought about the importance of building alliances: Grupo Dignidade hosts the conference but benefited from the support of a coalition of groups.
Ever since the beginning, we decided to value the elaboration of a clear strategy in order to decriminalize homosexuality in eleven countries of our continent, mainly in the Caribbean. The continent also has to deal with religious fundamentalisms (catholics but mostly evangelicals), a huge issue in most of the countries in the region. The LGBTI movement needs to elaborate a professional strategy to face this situation.
Approving new laws is key. We have had great victories, in Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico city, Buenos Aires, as far as civil unions for same sex couples. And of course, we wish to extend those rights to all countries.
Last but not least, HIV/Aids remains a major concern for gays but also for transvestites and transsexuals. Aids and its prevention are still a huge preoccupation for all of us.