|Stephen Barris, ILGA|
|Stephen Barris, ILGA|
From ILGA-LAC fifth Conference, Curitiba Brazil. My name is Susel Paredes. I am from Peru. We are here in Curitiba where an historical conference is taken place: it is the first time that a conference brings together 417 people from 37 countries to examine the more important issues and to list our proposals for solutions in our region, ILGA-LAC.
It seems to me that the participation of lesbians is very dynamic. Something else is happening too: we have finally created a bridge between the Pacific and the Atlantic: Brazil is starting to work with us. I believe that this unity between this continent, Brazil, and our continent, the remaining countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, is key: we need to reinforce this process of articulating the two. It has just begun and cannot be abandoned. It is essential to continue in this coordination because we have many things to learn from each other, so much to share, between the Brazilian activists and the other lesbians from the Andean area and the Caribbean.
The maturity of our leaders made it possible for us to agree on candidates. This means we will not waste our energies and time in electoral processes which reproduce the worst of traditional politics. With this consensus, we have been able to concentrate on elaborating policies and actions. It’s a good thing we no longer exchange votes against things. The process which takes place in the Andean region bears some particular characteristics but basically I think that we could decide as of now that no re-election after a mandate is the standard: people who come to ILGA are not new activists or apprentices; They come from their respective country to this international institution already experienced and with management capacity … etc.
I think we must show generosity and leave the place to those coming after us, the new generations. In the case of lesbians, we must learn how to open up and leave our work to young activists. Of course, we may have, as in the feminist movement, some “sacred queens”; admirable women, but who continue to hold on to the positions which could be taken up by others. Maybe not people in their thirties, rather in their forties, people who did not have the occasion to occupy these positions. If we do not want to repeat the same mistakes of other movements, we must learn how to open up and let younger ones be in charge of the movement, the institution, the organization, the party, while giving them our experience and support.
They should be able to be in charge and enjoy our support which will enable them to do the best possible work. In my opinion, the possibility of entering and playing key roles in mixed organizations and the fact that we now have powerful lesbian organizations which can impact political work are two very important subjects. The fact that lesbians direct mixed organizations is a key-subject.
Another key-subject, and in that sense, it seems that what is most obvious is somehow invisible to us, is that we should, as lesbians speak about health issues which have nothing to do with sexual transmitted diseases. We should speak about subjects like obesity, alcohol abuse… and take concrete actions!
We should be more self-critical in that respect, the sooner the better!
Our relationship to the feminist movement is already very advanced. We’ve reached the point where we now talk on equal grounds: we no longer are the “little sisters” of the feminist movement. We can talk as equals with the feminist movement as well as the indigenous movement. There are concrete actions: the last gay pride was made in solidarity with the indigenous movement. We have a native Trans leader in Mexico. We have also good relationships with the Labour movement. In some trade unions, people already started to work on the issue of sexual diversity.
All of this is advancing slowly but surely. The relationship with the indigenous movement is fundamental in a region where we have indigenous peoples in numbers who experience the same situation of exclusion, the same little recognition from the State, and who are just as invisible as we are. I believe that we must look for common issues within each of these movements.
My commitment is to support Toli (Iris Hernandez) with all my energy so that she eventually will be successful in her management as ILGA-LAC Lesbian Co-Secretary general, and also to whoever is chosen as lesbian secretary for the Andean Region. In fact, there are already some tasks that require follow up: the court case of the chilean judge, Atala, for which I had introduced an Amicus curiae in the Human rights Commission. Although I will not have a second chance as a board member, it is my commitment to ILGA that I will follow up the case, as a lawyer, until the whole process comes to a conclusion.