UN Conference on Racism
ILGA facilitates LGBTI visibility at Durban review conference
The UN Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, held in Geneva during April 2009, was a follow up to the Conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, and its Declaration and Plan of Action (DDPA).

In 2001, a conflict occurred over whether ILGA would be accredited to the initial Durban conference. Malaysia, in the name of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, objected to ILGA’s accreditation. On July 30th, 2001, a vote was held on ILGA, resulting in a 43-43 tie and rejection of accreditation. In spite of ILGA being barred, many lesbian and gay representatives participated in the parallel conference and attended the conference with accreditations from other organisations. Preparatory meetings to the conference had developed a Draft Declaration and Programme of Action. The regional conference of the Americas for example, adopted a document which mentioned “sexual orientation” on several occasions though the draft declaration presented in Durban only included one reference to “sexual orientation" in another diversity-style paragraph. Finally, sexual orientation was not mentioned in the final conference declaration though the document includes an open-ended statement on equality and non-discrimination referring to goals of “tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity”.*

This year, in Geneva, although any reference to sexual orientation and gender identity was withdrawn from the final document of the DDPA, this form of discrimination was addressed several times by the NGOs and representatives from countries such as Norway, United Kingdom, Sweden (on behalf of the EU), Chile, México and Brazil.

Together with COC-Netherlands and with the support of Arc International and a coalition of NGOs, ILGA facilitated the presence of a group of activists to the Durban review, in particular black and indigenous LGBTI activists from the Global South. Their presence aimed at lobbying and raising awareness specifically about the discrimination suffered by LGBTI people as well as highlighting the different experiences of discrimination (race, gender…) aggravated by the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On Thursday April 23, a side event “Celebrating Intersectionality, Understanding race and multiple forms of discrimination within the DDPA” was organised in the United Nations. The event was well attended by activists working on different issues and saw the presence of representatives of the governments of Norway, United Kingdom and Switzerland.

ILGA would like to thank the following activists for their participation in its lobbying efforts in Geneva:
- Claudio Nascimento, Brazil
- Lindiwe Nkutha, South Africa (Coalition of African Lesbians)
- Akim Adé Larcher, Saint Lucia (Egale Canada/ILGA)
- Amaranta Gomez Regalado, Mexico (Colectivo Binni Laanu)
- Marianela Carbajal Diaz, Dominican Republic (FOMUDE)

They spoke on behalf of the LGBTI community and participated either in the informal meetings, the sessions of the Preparatory Committee and/or the Durban Review Conference and the side event.

Lindiwe Nkutha gave a speech on behalf of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association during the last session of the plenary of the Conference (see video)

ILGA would also like to extend its thanks to Yves de Matteis (Switzerland), John Fisher (Arc International), Marcelo Ferreyra (IGLHRC), Sören Juvas and Philip Wendahl (RFSL, Sweden), Rebeca Sevilla (Education International, Belgium), Flavio Rapisardi (FALGBT, Argentina), Mauro Cabral (MULABI, Argentina) for their participation and support as well as Ruben Alonso (ILGA) and Bjorn van Roozendaal (COC) for their coordination of this project.

* from “Sexual Orientation in International Law: What role has international law played in the LGBT movement?” by Professor Douglas Sanders.

More information:

Press release