The tapestry of our shared humanity: an end-of-year message by ILGA World

 

Dear member organisations, friends, activists, and partners,

This year, each step towards progress we made, was met with harsh pushbacks. LGBTI communities, just as every human rights movement, have always known this: change has to be fought for, and 2023 was no different. Especially for the most marginalised among us, or for those living in areas where war or outrageous and inhumane human rights violations ensue, resilience seems to be a daily, daunting task.

And yet, what they do not understand is that we are not going anywhere:  once again, we are united in hope and unwavering solidarity. There’s power in the solidarity of community when we all join forces to rise up! And when that happens, there’s no turning back on the path towards a better future for all.

Dear friends, your strength inspires change and progress. In the face of prejudice and discrimination, your courage lights the way towards a more inclusive and respectful world. Each uphill struggle you tackle, each community member you serve, and each story you share contributes to a legacy of equality and understanding.

Know that you are not alone! ILGA World is by your side, always, and we are ever so grateful for everything you do. We are in this together, and despite the adversities we face, we know that the beauty of diversity enriches the tapestry of our shared humanity.

Let’s continue to uplift one another, amplify and join our voices, and celebrate our victories – no matter how big or small. Together, we can create a more just present, and an equal future for all.

 

 

(photo by Josean Rivera for Presentes)

 

The changes we see…

The work that our member organisations and communities on the ground are doing is bringing about change!

In 2023, the Cook Islands and Mauritius decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual acts, while a provision to the same end came into force in Singapore and for military forces in Venezuela. At least seven UN Member States in three different world regions enacted anti-discrimination protections. Cyprus, Iceland, and Spain passed laws to curtail ‘conversion therapy’ practices. Andorra, Estonia, Nepal, and Slovenia joined the list of countries where same-sex marriage is now legal.

The Australian Capital Territory became the first sub-national jurisdiction in the country to pass legislation safeguarding the human rights of intersex individuals, and Spain enacted protections for them at the national level. Positive developments for the intersex community also took place in Brazil and Chile.

Spain, Finland, and New Zealand made legal gender recognition based on self-determination a reality, and a cross-regional group of 28 countries took the floor at the United Nations, urging more countries to do so.

 

… and the pushbacks we faced! 

Besides these positive developments, we also saw tragic setbacks in 2023.  This year alone, provisions to arrest, prosecute and sentence LGBT and gender-diverse people were applied in more than 60 countries. Uganda joined the list of States imposing the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts. Russia banned what it called the “international LGBT public movement” as extremist. Legal debates around freedom of expression regarding sexual and gender diversity have become a critical battleground, with a considerable number of regressive initiatives being advanced across the globe – including across the Americas and Europe. Noteworthy victories in advancing freedom of association in Kenya and Eswatini were met with resistance.

Every day, around the world, we are reminded that our work is nowhere near done.

 

 

An ILGA World delegation participated in the 2023 Sydney WorldPride

 

The impact of our ILGA World family

Our member organisations – now numbering 1,919 from 169 countries and territories – continued to change the world in myriad ways. We continued to support them daily with advocacy opportunities, research, and resources, and to be led by them in everything we do. And the impact is showing!

Data about our communities has historically been hard to find. We changed that this year, launching the ILGA World Database: a free, interactive, and collaborative platform compiling laws, news, and references to human rights bodies and advocacy opportunities with the United Nations related to LGBTI people worldwide. Hundreds of human rights defenders and other stakeholders use this platform daily!

During the year, we also launched the ground-breaking LGBTI Pathways global initiative, together with the Global Philanthropy Project, aiming to identify and catalyse pathways to increased and improved funding for LGBTI communities around the world.

With the Intersex Legal Mapping Report, we released a much-needed first: a global survey on legal protections for people born with variations in sex characteristics. More ground-breaking research included the second edition of Our Identities Under Arrest, noting unpredictable spikes in prosecutions of LGBT and gender-diverse persons worldwide, and an overview of three years of LGBTI and SOGIESC references by the UN Treaty Bodies

 

 

We continued to support and share with our members engagement opportunities within United Nations human rights fora, and to amplify their voices in these spaces. To that extent, we co-organised three weeks of advocacy around the Universal Periodic Review as well as the seventh Trans Advocacy Week, delivered statements and hosted events at the Human Rights Council, launched a brand-new Treaty Bodies Academy for activists, and strengthened our work on national advocacy engagement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Beyond the UN, we ensured that LGBTI issues were high on the agenda in the world of sports, thanks to our work with the Sport and Rights Alliance, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and the LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Sports Coalition. Our presence in the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality also meant that we kept advancing equal rights in the business world, and we trained hundreds of corporate employees on diversity & inclusion issues.

Advocacy, however, can take different avenues, too. This year, we launched Juntes, an initiative focused on art and strengthening alliances between feminist and trans movements. Over seventy advocates and artists met in São Paul, Brazil, for a week of dialogues to tackle the harms of the global anti-gender movement, and then we repeated the experience in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

But that’s not all: we also strengthened our work alongside our communities in the Caribbean and the Pacific. For the first time, ILGA World coordinated the global working group for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and bolstered targeted communications towards our members - which can also benefit from new membership fees.

 

 

A delegation of the ILGA World Board and staff met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk in November 2023

 

Our Board and Staff

All this work would not have been possible without our 19 Board members and 35 committee members who volunteered their time, energy, skills and passion to keep ILGA a truly movement-owned organisation.

During 2023, our team continued to expand, with new hires strengthening our work on gender identity and expression (Lily Dong Li Rosengard), monitoring, evaluation and learning (Madhu Jagdeeshan), operations (Camila Galdino) and human resources (Karla Avila Becerril).

We are so grateful for the ongoing work of all our staff members and consultants! A special shout-out also goes to all the junior consultants who joined us this year and contributed to making our work possible.

In 2024, our team will continue to grow. We are currently advertising for a new position at ILGA World, and some of our regions have openings, too, so please share and apply for these opportunities during the festive season!

 

 

the logo of the 2024 ILGA World Conference

 

Into 2024 

The new year will be when our global family will be reunited again. We cannot wait to meet you at the 2024 ILGA World Conference in Cape Town, South Africa! There will be many opportunities for member organisations to shape the work of ILGA World, including having their say on our new strategic plan and our governance review. Make your voices heard!

Beyond the conference, we will continue to be there for our LGBTI communities worldwide through our work of advocacy, capacity building, and research – with renewed attention to strategic communications and countering harmful anti-gender narratives. We will also create a comprehensive Disability Action and Inclusion Plan, launch a new website to better reflect our current work, and much more. 

But before then, let’s look back to an extraordinary year one last time: here’s to another year of working together,  alongside one another in global solidarity throughout our victories and our setbacks.

Best wishes to all for rainbow peace and joy during the holidays and festive season! 

 

Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown
ILGA World Co-Secretaries General

Julia Ehrt
ILGA World Executive Director

  

All of this work takes effort, time, and adequate resources.
Please support our work in 2024 with a one-time or monthly donation to ILGA World to make a personal impact.
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