Participation in conferences and convenings – 2014

UPR/OAS training in Saint Lucia

From August 10-16th, 2014, 4 facilitators (including ARC Co-Director, Kim Vance) and participants representing 18 organisations from 12 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean attended an intensive workshop to increase Caribbean advocacy through UPR/OAS processes. The training was hosted with the support of British High Commission, ARC International, COC Nederland, Arcus Foundation – Social Justice, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Heartland Alliance International. The training was an excellent opportunity for ARC to develop and utilize new regionally-specific learning tools that are fun, interactive, informative, and well-received by participants.

International AIDS Conference

The International AIDS Conference, which took place in Melbourne from July 20-25, 2014, opened on a sombre note recalling those lost on flight MH17, as well as all those lost to HIV through neglect, stigma and discrimination. Yet participants at the conference of more than 13,000 people also expressed a positive, almost defiant, affirmation of the need to do more.

ARC was pleased to host a panel titled “The Time has Come: Combating Stigma and Discrimination against LGBTI Persons at the Global Level”, featuring Syinat Sultanalieva, Peter Hyndal, Joleen Mataele, Kene C. Esom and Dédé Oetomo, facilitated by Co-Director John Fisher.

At the closing ceremony, Chris Beyrer affirmed to a standing ovation that he was the first openly-gay President of the International AIDS Society, and pledged a renewed focus on inclusion and human rights in the HIV response moving forward. The next International AIDS Conference will take place in Durban, South Africa in July 2016.

World Pride

World Pride in Toronto, Canada (June 20-29, 2014) was a packed 10 days consisting of a major human rights conference (#WPHRC14), meetings, celebrations, protests, and parades. ARC supporters carried our banner in the hugely popular and political Dyke March, and also walked with the  Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights partners as part of the International Contingent in the World Pride Parade. ARC participated actively in the human rights conference and was able to meet with many of its international partners for networking and strategizing. ARC Co-Director, Kim Vance, was also delighted to meet Canada’s first openly lesbian head of state, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and her partner at a reception at Queen’s Park.

ILGA North America Regional Summit

On June 21st, 2014, ARC attended the 1st ILGA North America Regional Summit. This was the first chance for ILGA members in Canada and the United States to convene outside of a World Conference, in order to develop strategy and vision for the region. In addition to discussing national level issues in the region, participants mapped out areas where a North American network could have impact internationally, for instance, in the OAS, the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. The summit also heard from ILGA Co-Secretary General, Gloria Careaga, about the upcoming World Conference in Mexico.

Orientations and Identities 

In May 2014, ARC Co-Director, Kim Vance, was invited to address and participate in a conference entitled Orientations and Identities: Sexuality and Human Rights on the Global Stage in Los Angeles, USA. The goals of the conference were to: a) to provide a forum for practitioners and academics to find commonalities, linkages, and contestations in the hopes of improving cohesion and results in our work; b) to address theoretical, normative and strategic questions about the nature, justifications, and sources of sexual rights/SOGI-related rights, and the efficacy of different forms of national and international leverage; c) to clarify debates on key issues and terms; d) to discuss current and future strategies for advancing work on SOGI-related rights from the local to the global; and e) to identify ways in which future academic research and transnational activism can inform each other in mutually beneficial ways. It was wonderful to be among a great group of thinkers and doers, and some next steps and new initiatives were born within this collaborative space.

UNAIDS Consultarion on HIV and the Human Rights of LGBTI People

ARC was pleased to participate in this UNAIDS consultation, on the eve of IDAHOT 2014. The focus of the consultation was to develop strategies to respond to the various health and human rights challenges related to HIV faced by LGBTI people. Shorter-term crisis prevention and management interventions were explored, as well as longer-term sustainable policies and programmes to improve access to health services for LGBTI communities.

The international gathering brought together implementers, advocates, faith leaders, human rights defenders, donors and representatives of United Nations organizations from countries and regions around the globe, including the Caribbean, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Uganda, USA and Zambia.

Transgender Europe Council

ARC was honoured to be invited to attend the biennial Transgender Europe Council in May 2014 in Budapest. Bringing together some 200 delegates, the TGEU Council is the largest political gathering of trans activists on the continent and a unique opportunity for strategic discussion of challenges, progress and opportunities, as well as a lively celebration of the increasing strength of the trans movement across Europe. ARC Co-Director John Fisher presented a workshop on using UN mechanisms to advance trans rights, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay delivered the first-ever video message by a High Commissioner specifically focused on trans rights.

Global Meeting on Gender, Sexuality and the Internet

In April 2014, ARC Advocacy and Communications Manager Sheherezade Kara took part in a global meeting to explore issues around gender, sexuality and the internet, to contribute to building a network of feminist and queer activists, academics, internet rights experts and techies to identify collaborative strategies across movements and develop an evolving set of Feminist Principles on the Internet. The meeting took place in Malaysia and brought together academics, activists and policy specialists from local, regional and international organisations and networks from around the globe. During the meeting ARC co-facilitated a training session on engaging with human rights mechanisms and UN instruments to advance sexual rights and women’s human rights in relation to the internet.

PAN Africa ILGA Conference

The Pan Africa ILGA (PAI) conference, which took place in Nairobi in March 2014, brought together human rights defenders from across Africa, for several days of strategic discussion, debate and analysis. The conference also saw the adoption of a new Constitution and election of a new Board to carry forward PAI’s continued development and voice within the region. ARC hosted an interactive discussion on UN engagement, participated in workshops on a range of issues, including security needs, religion and culture, and documentation of human rights violations, and appreciated the opportunity to discuss ways of strengthening international and regional partnerships.

Istanbul Meeting on SOGI Related U.N. Advocacy

Since June 2011 ARC has been pleased to support civil society engagement around a follow-up SOGI resolution at the UN, as well as to strengthen opportunities for building solidarity and assessing ways of working together effectively. Through weekly conference calls and a shared collaborative process, NGOs working on SOGI issues at the UN had the opportunity to explore areas of commonality, needs and priorities, culminating in a convening in Istanbul in February 2014 involving NGOs and human rights defenders from Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Saint Lucia, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United States of America and Uruguay.

Informed by two external research reports (one on the pros and cons of different UN models, and one a comparative analysis of experiences of other equality movements in advancing their priorities within an international context), and independently facilitated by Sally Shalabi from Jordan, the Istanbul convening provided an invaluable opportunity for sharing diverse perspectives, building areas of common ground, and identifying issues for continued discussion.

Key areas of commonality were gathered together in a one-page document to help guide our engagement with States, and all involved expressed a mutual commitment to maintaining and broadening the conversation to strengthen our continued participation in UN processes.

Global Interfaith Network for People of All SSOGIE – Conference and launch

In January 2014, the Global Interfaith Network convened for its official launch. The aim of the network is to build solidarity amongst individuals of faith regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, promote dialogue, respect and affirm diversity within various contexts and achieve common goals of equality, spirituality and justice. Sheherezade Kara was pleased to participate on behalf of ARC.