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LESBIAN MOVEMENTS: RUPTURES & ALLIANCES

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material on state sponsored homophobia
ILGA to celebrate its 30th anniversary in Vienna
11/11/2008
World
World
 
The International Lesbian and Gay Association will hold its 24th world conference Nov 3 – 6 in Vienna, Austria. 200 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex activists from over 80 countries will attend the event, an occasion to celebrate ILGA’s 30-year-long history. 120 of those are scholars from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, their participation possible thanks to a generous grant from the Austrian government and a number of partners of ILGA (see the full list of donors below and the programme of the conference attached).

“Activists are using ILGA as a platform to exchange and strengthen their campaigns to fight discrimination and achieve equality. This was particularly important before internet eased communication for groups which were isolated. The conference is still the place where the association interacts with its network which can discuss the movement’s agenda and elects its representatives. We are proud to count on 600 member groups coming from over 100 countries” says Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Co-Secretary General of ILGA and Executive Director of the organisation EQUAL GROUND in Sri Lanka. Flamer-Caldera is one of the few out lesbians in Sri Lanka and has been a vociferous campaigner for equal rights for the LGBT community both in her own country as well as internationally since joining the ILGA board 7 years ago.

Philipp Braun, Co-Secretary General of ILGA has been campaigning with the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD) on issues such as recognition of same sex partners, a comprehensive antidiscrimination law and transgender rights and has been involved in international solidarity such as the protest against homophobic singers in Europe. Both Philipp and Rosanna were elected as Co-Secretary Generals of this world association at its last world conference in Geneva in March 2006. “Members who gathered in Manila in 2002 gave ILGA a strong mandate to work on having sexual orientation and gender identity come out at the UN. We have seen some successes at the UN in the last two years such as seven LGBTI groups receiving ECOSOC status. Our last conference in Geneva reflected the emergence of a very strong trans movement by creating a World Trans Secretariat” says Philipp Braun.

“ILGA occupies quite a unique place. It is the members of the organization which still give it, to this day, the legitimacy to speak on its behalf on the international stage” says Philipp. “ILGA is the body and voice of the LGBTI movement at large” adds Rosanna. Along its history, ILGA has campaigned to have Human Rights NGOs such as Amnesty include sexual orientation in their work or to have the World Health Organization delete homosexuality off of its list of mental illnesses. ILGA was also the first NGO to speak openly at the United Nations of the many human rights violations faced by lesbians, gays, Trans and intersex people. 86 countries still criminalize same sex relationships between consenting adults in the world. “Decriminalization is of utmost importance in countries such as mine so that our brothers and sisters can live freely and with dignity as wholesome citizens,” says Rosanna Flamer-Caldera. “Our work at the UN aims at highlighting the many atrocities carried out against LGBTI communities worldwide in the name of the law and to put and end to judicial persecution of LGBTI persons all over the world”. ILGA is collaborating closely with a coalition of international NGOs such as Amnesty International, Arc International, Global Rights, Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to make sure sexual orientation and gender identity stay on the UN agenda.

Another challenge facing the association is helping activists in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean self-organise on a regional level. “We look forward to the day when a lesbian or gay African activist can stand up in an international institution and say she or he represents a network of groups in over half the countries of Africa” says Philipp Braun. “There are a lot of brave activists campaigning individually in the world” adds Rosanna Flamer-Caldera: “ILGA is working hard to accompany them in building their own regional federations”. In the past 18 months, ILGA has organized three regional conferences in Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean. “Seeing some 40 African activist give birth to Pan Africa ILGA has been a highlight this last year” says Philipp Braun. Pan Africa ILGA now joins its sister-federations ILGA-Asia, ILGA-Europe and ILGA-LAC under the umbrella of the Brussels based International Lesbian and Gay Association.

More information:

Stephen Barris 00 32 473 682 635
ILGA Brussels 00 32 2 502 24 71

ILGA would like to acknowledge the following partners and funders for their support to this 24th ILGA World Conference:

- the Austrian government
- the City of Vienna
- HIVOS
- HOSI-Wien, local LGBT group in Vienna, co-organizer of the conference
- IBM
- IGLHRC (the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission)
- ILGA Europe, the European region of ILGA
- SIDA (the Swedish International Aid Agency) and RFSL-Sweden
- NOVIB