More than a hundred persons came together to celebrate the work of LGBTI human rights defenders worldwide, on the occasion of the inaugural World Gala of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), held on June 1 at the Palais Eynard in Geneva, Switzerland.

We are proud to call the event a success,” commented Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director at ILGA. “The event gathered together representatives of several missions at the United Nations and of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as members of the Swiss Cantonal Parliament, human rights organisations, business companies and media – all of them coming together to praise the work of LGBTI organisations, community members, human rights activists and allies who are paving the way to advance equality for LGBTI people everywhere.”


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to watch a photo gallery from the inaugural ILGA World Gala


The event was hosted by the Ville de Genève, which has recently become one of the first cities to join ILGA as an Associate Member. To mark this historic partnership, the Vice-Mayor of Geneva in charge of Equality and Diversity, Mrs. Sandrine Salerno, received an official certificate of membership from the hands of Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-Secretaries General at ILGA.

ILGA_World_Gala_Ville_Genève_Associate_Membership Mrs. Sandrine Salerno, Vice-Mayor of Geneva, received an official certificate of Associate Membership on behalf of Ville de Genève (ph. Maurane Di Matteo)

Moving the headquarters to Geneva in 2014 gave us the opportunity to continue growing, and also to make our work become more meaningful to our member organisations worldwide,” Baldacchino and Kennedy commented. “We look forward to building closer and closer partnerships with the City.”

"The City of Geneva has welcomed ILGA's tremendous efforts on numerous occasions and has always supported it with great conviction. It is therefore a real honour for the City to formally join ILGA as an associate member” said Mrs. Salerno, who also remembered the pioneering work of Geneva against discriminations based on sexual orientation or gender identity through the establishment of a civil servant position specially dedicated to these issues. “In too many parts of the world,” she added, “the situation for rainbow communities is still very worrying, and more work has to be done everywhere. It is therefore essential to redouble efforts to ensure that the human rights of all people are respected throughout the world.”

The importance of having allies of our communities in position of power and leadership cannot be overstated, and it is important to acknowledge their work. This is why, during the inaugural ILGA World Gala, the organisation honoured Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the “LGBTI Friend of the Year” award.

ILGA_World_Gala_Ruth_Baldacchino_Helen_Kennedy Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-Secretaries General at ILGA, during the inaugural ILGA World Gala (ph. Maurane Di Matteo)

“We are very lucky to have political leaders who put LGBTI human rights as a priority to their agenda,” Baldacchino and Kennedy commented. “It doesn't happen everywhere, and it is not easy to stand up when the tides are against you most of the time: it takes real courage to be authentic allies to LGBTI people. We are thrilled to recognise one of these people tonight: to have people in positions of power having difficult conversations with those whom traditionally would not have them has a very significant impact on our lived realities.”

During the evening, graced also by the performances of cellist JohnDeVore and folk-rock songwriter and 4-time Outmusic award nominee Namoli Brennet, ILGA also presented its successful programs, international research and education projects.

“In 2016 alone, we released 8 high-quality publications and trained more than 150 human rights defenders, providing activists, media organisations and partners with crucial advocacy and education tools,” explained Sabbadini. “We pledge on continuing our human rights work, and we count on your support to continue working together with more than 1,200 member organisations from 132 countries to advance LGBTI rights worldwide.”

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