we are excited to launch ILGA’s latest Annual Report today, and to share it with all of you.
We wrapped up one year in our work to advance equality worldwide, offering a glimpse into our present impact and our future direction.
ILGA is grateful for the work and support of its member organisations, staff, interns and board members. A heartfelt shout-out and thank you goes to all the LGBTI activists around the world for the time and energy they commit to advancing LGBTI equality everywhere.
This is a perfect time to look back at what we have achieved, and look forward to continue growing in our capacity to represent our movements. Our strength lies in the commitment to make sure that all voices are heard, because the only way forward is with one voice, towards social justice for all.
Our 2017 in the words of
Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, ILGA Co-Secretaries General [+ LINK]
André du Plessis, ILGA’s Executive Director [+ LINK]
we know all too well that our communities’ struggle to be recognised and accepted has never come without challenges. As if we needed more proof, 2017 served us constant, sobering reminders of the hurdles that we yet have to overcome. For every hard-won battle, we had to experience the bitter fruits of a rising politics of hate, with the fingers of ruthless scaremongers pointed at our bodies and/or identities in an irresponsible hope to gain social and political consensus.
And yet, resilient as our communities are, we refused to give in to hatred and intolerance. We continued to push for change and demand our rights be recognised and respected. We stood together. We rejoiced whenever the advances that we had long fought for became a reality. And we hearteningly saw millions of other people joining us in defending the rights of all targeted groups in the face of a scary, populist wave of hate.
Women marched all around the world to demand equal rights. People called out the most egregious persecutions against our communities – such as the ones happening in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, and Egypt, just to name a few. Indifference was not the only response we saw to injustices perpetrated against LGBTI human rights defenders, LBQ women, trans people, intersex people, migrants, people of colour, ethnic communities, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and more minorities: slowly, yet irreversibly, people are refusing to be silent.
Hopelessness is something that we cannot afford, and we must remind ourselves that we are not alone whenever the burden seems too hard to carry. We are in this together, and ILGA is proud to have been by your side through all of these times filled with both challenges and hope. We are more determined than ever to support LGBTI communities and movements through our worldwide structure, advocacy and resources for activism, and our family continues to grow in numbers, capacity and strength.
ILGA is built on the energy and resourcefulness of its global membership, whose passionate and tireless work continues to push for social, political and economic change and justice. It has always been like this, and now we are getting ready to celebrate 40 years of profound impact on the many LGBTI lives around the world.
This is a perfect time to look back at what we have achieved and look forward to continue growing in our capacity to represent our global movements. Our strength lies in our commitment to making sure that all of our voices are heard, because the only way forward is with one voice towards social justice for all.
Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, Co-Secretary Generals
n 2017, our membership continued to grow: more than 1,300 organisations worldwide now form the ever-diverse ILGA mosaic, and our offices in Bangkok, Brussels, Buenos Aires and Johannesburg continue to serve as regional hubs for defenders working on the ground.
Meanwhile, in its Geneva headquarters, ILGA continued increasing capacity to assist LGBTI communities at the local level using the international framework.
Throughout 2017, we trained more than 300 human rights defenders on issues as diverse as their digital security, advocacy skills and international human rights law.
We released seven reports, surveys or toolkits, and made them more easily accessible thanks to a fully-renewed website. Picked up by media outlets worldwide, and widely shared among activists and partners, these publications have proved to be essential tools in the hands of human rights defenders, as well as a powerful resource to help millions of general readers know our communities better.
Meanwhile, we kept raising our movements’ voices at the United Nations, and we honoured High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein with the ‘LGBTI Friend of the Year’ award during our first-ever World Gala, thanking him for his efforts in addressing issues affecting our communities on the global stage.
As our activities kept growing, so did our team. In 2017, we welcomed J. Andrew Baker as Senior Development Officer, while Callum Birch and Lara Goodwin joined as interns to assist our UN work. We also said an important goodbye, as Renato Sabbadini left ILGA to commence the next chapter of his career. Under his leadership in over four years as Executive Director, he has been fundamental in having ILGA grow stronger in its structures and capacity, especially after our arrival in Geneva. We sincerely want to thank him for his work: he leaves ILGA in a very strong position for future growth.
And the future looks indeed exciting: the celebrations for our 40th anniversary will soon begin, culminating in March 2019 at the first ILGA World Conference to ever be hosted in Oceania. That will also be where our new strategic plan will be adopted. We are inviting ILGA members and partners during 2018 to have a say in this: you can help us shape our future direction, and serve our communities even better, especially those most underrepresented.
Your voice matters!
André du Plessis, Executive Director