Submitted by Daniele Paletta on Tue, 12/22/2020 - 14:30
Dear members, friends, activists, and partners, What a year!
2020 has been a time of solidarity, of adapting to an uncertain “new normal” and of advances that can only fill us with hope - despite all the struggle, uncertainty, and grief that the Covid-19 pandemic has cast on our lives, and the ongoing systemic violence and discrimination against our communities.
This year has been a heavy blow for many LGBTI persons, who had to fight the hardest to survive in a world that has become even more unequal and violent. In times like these, we are reminded of what communities are made of - the power to support each other, and to bring others close even when we’re physically forced apart.
So, as we reflect on the past 12 months, we want to pause for a moment, remember the ones we have lost, the losses and rollbacks in LGBTIQ+ rights at the hands of a few states, and give thanks and gratitude that we are still here, continuing with the good fight until we are all truly free and equal!
Thank you for your voice, for speaking up, for turning up, for standing side by side, for being a powerful advocate for the LGBTIQ+ community, and a passionate leader that continues to push for change. You make our global family better.
Postcards from our #inthistogether campaign
Our global family
Throughout 2020, we continued to support our members and the global LGBTIQ+ community.
We launched the #inthistogether campaign, providing remote working and well-being resources, listened to stories from the frontlines, created a platform to share positive messages with our global family, and kept supporting advocacy work in new digital ways with webinars and roundtables.
This is how one of our virtual UPR Advocacy Week looked like in 2020
At the United Nations we led a coalition of 187 organisations calling for the Human Rights Council’s attention on the impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTI persons. Highlighting the margins, LGBTI people of colour made sure they were remembered during an urgent debate on racial discrimination and police brutality, trans indigenous women from Latin America engage in UN spaces, and LGBTI people with disabilities shared experiences during the Conference of State Parties on CRPD.
The work that our communities are doing is bringing about change! In December 2020, the parliament of Bhutan voted to decriminalize consensual same-sex relations, only one year after ILGA World had supported human rights defenders to raise the issue in UN spaces ahead of the country’s Universal Periodic Review. Earlier in 2020, Sudan lifted the death penalty as punishment for consensual same-sex sexual activity, two years after the Human Rights Committee had made a recommendation in this regard-
Empowering our members in promoting and protecting human rights is at the core of what ILGA World is about.
In 2020, we published landmarks reports that keep contributing to let the world know about our communities. We updated and expanded the Global Legislation Overview section of our State-Sponsored Homophobia report, and published our sexual orientation laws map in 20 languages. The scope of our Trans Legal Mapping Report was also expanded, tracking not only provisions around legal gender recognition, but also those that criminalise trans identities. A ground-breaking report on laws that ban ‘conversion therapy’ – our first on the topic – ended up being widely cited, including in the thematic report on the issue presented by the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
All these reports made headlines worldwide, as we continue to ensure that LGBTIQ+ issues remain visible and strategically represented in global media.
As many interactions moved into the virtual world, many LGBTIQ+ persons who cannot access the internet have experienced particular isolation and vulnerability. We addressed this during RightsCon 2020, the leading conference on human rights in the digital age. Not only was the session among the event’s highlights, but has also marked the starting point of a digital-divide project at ILGA World, so look out for outputs from this project as it progresses!
All of this work would not have been possible without our 19 Board members and 35 committee members who volunteer their time, energy, skills and passion to keep ILGA a truly movement-owned organisation.
We are also grateful to our 11 staff who keep the ILGA World engine running smoothly – even if from their own homes for the most part of the year.
This year, we said goodbye to Zhan Chiam, who started our Gender Identity and Gender Expression Programme over five years ago. His contributions have been invaluable, and we are truly grateful for the work he’s done in advancing our work in this area! We also welcomed two new persons to the team: Polyxeni Kallini - who will support our work on finance, grants and reportings - and Chamindra Weerawardhana, as a consultant to our Gender Identity & Expression and Sex Characteristics Programme.
A special shout-out also to the 8 persons that interned with us:
Andrea (El Salvador), Enrique (Mexico), Kellyn (South Africa), Maddalena (Italy), Mpahtso (Zambia), Oscar (Ireland), Alma (Colombia), and a research intern whose name and country are withheld for their personal security reasons. Not to mention all the consultants who have made our work possible!
During these uncertain times, it is natural to often wonder what the future holds, and if we will get a chance to contribute to shaping it for our communities so they are not left behind!
In 2020 we saw governments hide behind and use Covid-19 to crack down on marginalised communities, includingours. We can’t let that happen, we will not let that happen, and we will continue to fight by your side on the road to equality and social justice.
The ILGA World Conference 2022 is coming and we can’t wait to meet you again in person! As a reminder, you have until 20 January 2021 to submit session proposals, and until 27 January 2021 to apply for a scholarship!
We extend our warmest thanks and appreciation on behalf of the ILGA World Board, ILGA World staff to all of you who have contributed to this year’s success. We remain resolute in our standing and fighting side by side with you in our collective march towards justice and equality for all!
With best wishes to all for rainbow peace and joy during the holidays and festive season.
Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown, Co-Secretaries General André du Plessis, Executive Director
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Thanks to your support, activists will be trained at the 2022 ILGA World Conference, the largest global gathering for rainbow change-makers, and as they access international human rights bodies. Global-level campaigns will be created to show people why acceptance and respect cannot wait any longer. Research into laws impacting our communities will be made available to human rights defenders, institutions and the world at large. Trainings and conferences will become a reality for many activists, giving them a chance to feel they are not alone in their fight. Only together, we can bring about change. We are here to do our part: will you chip in?
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