First Wilton Park conference on the human rights of LGBTI persons
11 September, 2014
Wilton Park hosts its first ever conference on protecting and promoting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Representative voices from a wide range of institutions and communities around the world came together to discuss how best to coordinate efforts and provide effective support to legal, diplomatic and civil society initiatives at every level of the international system.
Promoting the human rights of LGBT persons: next steps for international institutions and civil society
Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 September 2014
We were extremely proud to host our first ever meeting last week on Promoting the human rights of LGBT persons: next steps for international institutions and civil society? persons as part of our Human Rights series. We welcomed representatives from 27 countries and across a range of sectors including various bodies at the United Nations; regional institutions, including the European Commission and the Commonwealth Foundation; national governments – including Norway, Netherlands, South Africa, United States, Canada, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; as well as an array of legal experts, academics and civil society organisations from around the world.
As well as identifying the current challenges around advocating decriminalisation and opposing the introduction of new discriminatory laws, discussions focused on how best to provide support to ongoing efforts aiming to ensure the protection from violence and discrimination of LGBT persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Whilst it was acknowledged that there are many difficulties in attempting to achieve consensus across all levels of the international political system and amongst numerous grassroots organisations working in a variety of contexts, many opportunities to share learning from past experiences and create strategies to move the issue forward were identified.
A desire to increase communication between organisations in order to reinforce the urgency of the issue was evident, and the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to work with related organisations and initiatives in order to promote international human rights standards or advance development projects was recognised.
It was acknowledged that all efforts should aim to be sensitive to the particularities of a given context, responsive to the needs and supportive of the priorities of activists and advocates working on the ground. Being able to communicate effectively with different actors – from parliamentarians and policymakers, judges or the media, to transnational institutions and development agencies – was also seen to be a key ingredient to successfully building alliances which can effect change.
Possibilities for the future were seen to involve making use of the many existing avenues in the UN system; coordinating inclusive development assistance and directing diplomatic efforts to where they can be most effectively aligned with the priorities of activists; and for activist organisations to develop every possible alliance to amplify the demand for the equal treatment of LGBT persons around the world.