Yvonne Wamari (Moderator) is the Africa Program Officer at OutRight Action International, based in Kenya. Yvonne joined OutRight in 2019. She is a human rights defender from Nairobi, Kenya with nine years’ experience in advocacy, research and security management. She has worked with the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists and the Africa Centre for Open Governance (Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice). For the past six years Yvonne worked for National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya as the Programme Officer- Advocacy, with a particular focus on human rights defenders. Yvonne is also a trained trainer, and has carried out various trainings to human rights defenders,journalists and others across Kenya on monitoring and documentation; advocacy strategies and physical and digital security management. She has worked closely with the LGBTIQ+ community and is part of the advocacy and legal strategy team in the campaign to repeal sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code of Kenya.
Dan Christian Ghattas, PhD, is the Executive Director of Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe). He started advocating for intersex human rights in Europe in 2009 and has since provided expertise to governments, EU and CoE and UN treaty bodies. He was one of the initiators of the 1 st International Intersex Forum (2011), co-authored the Malta Declaration in 2013 and is a co- founder and former co-chair of OII Europe. In 2013, he compiled the first empirical (pre-)study on the life situations of intersex individuals worldwide, Human Rights Between the Sexes, covering 12 countries and most continents. In 2016, he authored the ILGA-Europe/ OII Europe Intersex Toolkit Standing up for intersex human rights – How can you help? and in 2019 the ILGA-Europe/ OII Europe legal toolkit Protecting intersex people in Europe. A toolkit for law and policy makers. With digital appendix and checklist. From 2015-2020 he was the European Advisor for the Astraea Intersex Human Rights Fund and is the Fund’s Senior Advisor since 2020. From 2016-2018 he was Bridge Advisor for the Disability Rights Fund and is now a volunteer member of the Funds’ Program Strategy Task Force. Since 2019 he is member of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation Advisory Board.
Kimberly Zieselman, JD is an intersex woman, lawyer and the Executive Director of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, the world’s largest intersex advocacy organization. Kimberly has more than twenty-five years of experience in nonprofit advocacy including Director of Government Relations for Boston Children’s Hospital. Kimberly served on the board of the AIS-DSD Support Group (now “InterConnect”), the largest intersex support group in the US and participated in the UN Office of the High Commissioner's Expert Intersex Consultation in 2015. She is also an official signatory to the updated version of the Yogyakarta Principles on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – a milestone international human rights guidance document for LGBTQIA+. Kimberly regularly consults on intersex media projects and has been quoted and/or published in outlets including, USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, CNN, and The Advocate. Kimberly has a JD from Suffolk University Law School and a BA in Communications and Political Science from the University of Vermont. Her memoir, XOXY, reflecting on her life as an intersex woman turned activist was released on March 19 th by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Prashant Singh is a human rights lawyer from India. He currently works with Intersex Asia as Coordinator. Prashant’s research interests span across SOGIESC issues, transitional justice, migration and refugee law, etc. He has been part of national and international advocacy initiatives on intersex rights in India. Prior to Intersex Asia, he worked with Jindal Global Law School as a Research Fellow where he worked on several academic and field-based research projects on human rights issues. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as leading newspapers in India. He earned his primary law degree from National Law University, Punjab.
Julius .K. Kaggwa is the Executive Director of Support Initiative for People with atypical sex Development (SIPD) Uganda, the first intersex organization in Uganda and the region to particularly address the need for organized medical and psychosocial support, public education, as well as advocacy for human rights protection of intersex children and people. Julius, a fervent advocate for intersex and gender non binary human rights, is the author of several media articles on the human rights of Intersex children and people in Uganda. He has featured in awareness exhibitions and documentaries on African intersex and gender diversity lived realities and facilitated a number of national, regional, and international workshops on the rights of intersex and gender variant people. In addition, he led the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional law for the first phase of its existence and was at the forefront of the campaign against the anti-homosexuality act (AHA) tabled in Uganda’s parliament in October 2009. He testified before the US congress and did extensive advocacy in Uganda, Kenya, the US, South Africa, and Europe on the human rights implications of the AHA. His passion is to see a world where every human being is treated with dignity and without discrimination on any basis.
Jessica Stern (Moderator), Executive Director of OutRight Action International, is based in New York. Jessica specializes in gender, sexuality and human rights globally. At OutRight, she has supported the legal registration of LGBTIQ organizations globally, helped secure the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and advanced the UN LGBTI Core Group. She has provided expert opinions to governments globally, regional human rights institutions, and UN mechanisms, including UNWomen where she serves as a member of the LGBTI Reference Group. Her writing has been cited by the Indian Supreme Court in its seminal judgment decriminalizing same-sex relations and featured in The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (2019). She is frequently quoted by the media, including by The New York Times and The Guardian. She is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs.
Lisa Davis is an Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights & Gender Justice Clinic (formerly named International Women’s Human Rights Clinic). Professor Davis has written and reported extensively on international human rights and gender issues, including women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, with a focus on peace building and security issues in conflict and disaster settings. Lisa has testified before U.S. Congress, U.K. Parliament, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and various international human rights bodies. Lisa is also a member of the JRR-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts Roster. In 2016, Professor Davis was elected by their peers to deliver the civil society statement for the U.N. Security Council’s open debate on the use of sexual violence in conflict situations.
Ezra Berkley Nepon is the Senior Program Officer for Knowledge and Learning at Global Philanthropy Project, and served as the primary author of the 2017-2018 Global Resources Report tracking LGBTI global funding. Nepon’s previous work includes serving as a research partner in The Lafayette Practice, Director of Grassroots Fundraising for Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and Development Coordinator for the William Way LGBT Community Center. Nepon received an M.A. Degree from Goddard College with a concentration in Transformative Language Arts, and was a 2014 recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award. They are the author of two books – most recently, Dazzle Camouflage: Spectacular Theatrical Strategies for Resistance and Resilience.
Geetanjali Misra is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of CREA (New Delhi). She is a feminist and a film buff who has worked at the activist, grant-making, and policy levels on issues of sexuality, reproductive health, gender, human rights, and violence against women. Before joining CREA, she was a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, where she supported non-governmental organizations in Asia working in the fields of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Violence Against Women and Women’s Human Rights. Geeta has served as Co-Chair, President, and Advisor for multiple organizational Boards. Presently, she is a serving member of the Astraea Foundation Board and Amnesty International Task Force – Gender and Diversity. She also co-founded SAKHI for South Asian women in New York and has taught as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. As an author, Geeta has several publications to her name including Reflections on the Inclusion of Men in Women’s Rights Programs (2014) and Beyond Virtue and Vice: Rethinking Human Rights and Criminal Law (2019).
Hakima Abbas is an African feminist who has been active in social movements for two decades. Trained in international affairs, her work as a policy analyst, popular educator, advocate and strategist has focused on strengthening and supporting movements for transformation. Hakima is currently the co-Executive Director of AWID, a global feminist movement-support and membership organization with over 6600 members in180 countries.
Amie Bishop (Moderator) is the Senior Research Advisor for OutRight Action International, based in Seattle. She is the author of its recent reports, Vulnerability Amplified: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBTIQ People published in May 2020, and Harmful Treatment: The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy, published in August 2019. She previously served on OutRight’s Board of Directors from 2008 to 2017.
Amie is a human rights advocate and global health leader with professional experience in more than 20 countries. Between 1989 and 2014 she worked for PATH, a non-profit global health organization where her work spanned a variety of leadership and technical roles in the areas of TB, HIV, and women’s health. Amie is also an Adjunct Clinical Instructor at the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health and the Jackson School of International Studies. Amie is an elected member of the Advisory Committee of Seattle’s Women in Global Health initiative and is on the board of Rise Beyond the Reef, a community empowerment organization in Fiji. Amie holds Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Public Health from Columbia University.
Désirée Attard is a lawyer, legislative drafter, and human rights activist based in Malta. For the past five years, she has been leading the legal team within the Ministry for Equality responsible for Malta’s leap in LGBTIQ+ rights, and has pushed forward important legal reforms, including the criminalisation of conversion practices, and the introduction of marriage equality. She holds a Doctors of Law degree from the University of Malta, where she successfully defended her thesis, titled Abortion in Malta: Reviewing the Legal Stance from a Pro-Choice Perspective.
Suha Ballout, PhD, RN is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston with more than 15 years of clinical experience working with marginalized groups in the U.S. and globally. Her research focuses on understanding the impact that marginalization and vulnerability of minority groups has on the development chronic conditions, access to healthcare, and adherence to disease prevention and management strategies. She is the President of the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) and has focused on . Dr. Ballout is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), American Nurses Association (ANA), Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC), Eastern Nursing Research Society (ENRS), and others.
Nathan Despott is a survivor of 10 years of LGBTQA+ conversion practices. He is a proud gay Maltese Australian who was raised in a Roman Catholic family before entering the evangelical world in his late teens. Since 2013, Nathan has been advocating for a nuanced and survivor-led response to conversion practices in Australia. In 2015 he co-founded Brave Network (www.thebravenetwork.org), a conversion survivor support and advocacy group, and later co-wrote the SOGICE Survivor Statement (www.sogicesurvivors.com.au) with a group of passionate survivors and policy analysts. Brave and SOGICE Survivors are now spearheading a range of conversion practices interventions across Australasia. The work of Brave Network and SOGICE Survivors includes:
– Training survivors to share their stories with media, and training journalists to represent conversion practices accurately.
– Ensuring governments and advocates have a clear understanding of the central role and harmful nature of ‘conversion ideology’, the false and misleading pseudoscientific claims that underpin conversion practices.
– Creating dedicated and structured spaces for conservative faith leaders to meet survivors and discuss LGBTIQA+ affirming faith.
– Maintaining a referral pathway for survivors to find supports that will help them process their grief and trauma, meet appropriate mental health professionals, and develop their agency.
– Working as, or with, researchers on state or national conversion practices research projects to ensure appropriately validated tools are used during investigations.
Nathan is the policy and quality manager at Melbourne disability non-profit Inclusion Melbourne (www.inclusiondesignlab.org.au). He leads several participatory social research and development projects with people with intellectual disability to address electoral inclusion, LGBTIQA+ inclusion, oral health, and access to justice. He married his partner of 10 years, Nathanael, in 2019 surrounded by his extended family, something he once never thought possible. He also has a somewhat unhealthy lifelong obsession with Eurovision and science fiction.
Steve Letsike is a human rights advocate. Steve Founder and Executive Director of Access Chapter 2 (AC2). Steve is a prominent leader, with high level international policy and human rights experience for over 15 years. Currently she serves as the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Co- Chairperson, a portfolio currently co-chairing with the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, mandated in her capacity as the chairperson of SANAC National Civil Society Forum. Furthermore, she is the Co-Chair of the National Task Team established by the Department of Justice to address Hate Crimes and GBV. She is also Co-Chairs the Commonwealth Equality Network with over 53 commonwealth country members. Furthermore, she serves as a member of the Global UN Women LGBTI reference group, and the Southern Africa UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group, the Women4 Global Fund Network, as well as the Queerwell board, appointed by Minister of Health on the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Social and Behavior aspects of Covid-19 response in South Africa including serving as a Councilor on the South African Pharmacy Council. Steve is a seasoned Leader, Feminist, a Human Rights Advocate and an Entrepreneur.
Dr. Michael Ferguson is an Instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School, where his research focuses on brain circuit imaging and modulation at the interface of neurology and psychiatry. Dr. Ferguson was the named plaintiff in the Ferguson v. JONAH lawsuit, a first-of-its-kind legal case that successfully shut down a conversion therapy provider on the basis of consumer fraud and unconscionable business practices. He and his husband were also the first same-sex couple married in Utah, thus making them the first gay couple legally married in a “red state” in the USA. Dr. Ferguson is a co-founder of the organization CTSurvivors, and is currently developing an LGBTQ+ holistic health continuing medical education course at Harvard Medical School.
Grace Poore (MODERATOR)
Natasha Jiménez is a trans and intersex activist and author who is currently the General Coordinator for MULABI, Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights, host of the Intersex Secretariat for ILGA. She is an advisory board member for the first intersex human rights fund and participated in the first intersex hearing on human rights before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. An intersex and trans activist for over 20 years, Jiménez started her activism in feminist and LGBT movements in Latin America, and speaks at a range of national and international human rights institutions. In 2015, Jiménez joined an international advisory board for the first philanthropic Intersex Human Rights Fund.
Stephen Whittle is co-founder of Press For Change the UK’s transgender lobby group. As Head of Legal Services for over 25 years, he trains and leads a team providing free legal advice to transgender people and employers. In 2005 he was a founder member and later Chair of Transgender Europe. He has researched and written about the law and transgender people for over 30 years, including being a co-author of the Yogyakarta Principles on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Human Rights. In 2007 Stephen was the first Trans person and non-doctor to be elected President of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). He has advised the UK government on implementing gender recognition legislation and protection under the Equality Act 2010, and also advised on transgender law to the Scottish, Irish, Italian, Japanese, and South African governments, to the European Union, the Council of Europe and the European Commission. He advises lawyers internationally, and acts as an expert witness on matters relating to Trans lives, LGBT families, privacy rights, and writing country reports for asylum seekers. Stephen has recently served on the UK’s NHS Gender Identity Services Clinical Strategic Commissioning Group for the Department of Health, and is a member of the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service, Oversight Case Review Committee: In 2015, he was honoured to be appointed as special advisor to the Parliamentary Women & Equalities Committee Inquiry into Transgender Equality. Among many awards he received a Lambda Literary Award as co-editor (with Susan Stryker) of The Transgender Studies Reader, and in 2005 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE, 2005) for his work on transgender rights.
Ian Southey-Swartz, a scholar of psychology, is an activist with his roots in HIV and AIDS and health rights movements. He specifically worked on sexual and reproductive health rights. Ian is known for his contribution to numerous feminist publications in which he dissects the identity and ever evolving role of the African male. He is however best known for his work on the rights of lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex, gender non-conforming and queer (LGBTIQ+) persons and communities. Ian home country is Namibia where he was the founder of the first national LGBT organisation. Ian joined the Open Society Foundations in 2009 with the mandate to build a new portfolio of work – the now well established LGBTI Programme in Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). He is also part of the LGBTI team in the Human Rights Initiative, another foundation within OSF.
Julie Dorf has been a leader in the global LGBTI rights movement for over 25 years. Julie currently works as Senior Director for the Council for Global Equality, a coalition of 30 organizations working together for an inclusive U.S. foreign policy, which she co-founded in 2008. Julie also founded and directed the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC, now OutRight Action International) from 1990 to 2000, creating an organization that protects and advances the human rights of all people and communities subjected to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. She has bridged her activist career with philanthropy, serving as the Director of Philanthropic Services for Horizons Foundation, a San Francisco Bay Area foundation for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; and as an independent consultant for WPATH, Open Society Institute, Global Fund for Women, Arcus Foundation, Astraea Foundation, and Fenton Communications/J-Street Project. Julie is currently the lead advisor to the Equality Without Borders individual donor initiative. She also serves on the board or advisory boards of PowerPAC, Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program, Horizons Foundation, OutRight Action International, and the Northern California Finance Committee of J-Street. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Russian and Soviet Studies. Julie has written, spoken, and advocated extensively on social justice issues ranging from reparations for gay victims of the Nazis, Jewish-Palestinian relations, and marriage equality.
Shamim Salim is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in International Relations Major, with minor in Criminal justice Systems. Shamim is a lesbian Muslim disabled feminist and a human rights activist with four years’ experiences in influencing policy and structures to protect, promote and enhance justice for everyone. She has experience working in multicultural contexts within different movements; LGBTI movement, disability rights movement and the feminist movements in Kenya. Shamim is committed to the safety, wellness, freedom and justice of LGBTIQ persons, she continuously advocate for the creation of spaces for all LBQ womxn to reclaim their visibility, voice and leadership. Her work evolves around intersectionality and socio-economic, political and cultural justice. As a queer Muslim disabled feminist, she lives her life as a political statement but also as a way of creating more spaces to younger LGBTIQ folks to claim their spaces, speak up and further the movement. Her work through the formal organizing or unstructured organizing or as an individual contributes to the LGBTI movement and also across other movements such as the feminist movement and the disability rights movement in Kenya. For the last four years, her work through Church World Service (CWS) has centered on faith advocacy for LGBTIQ persons by changing hearts and minds of faith leaders in Kenya and take up actions towards inclusion of LGBTI persons. She has also been working on growing the LBQ movement by supporting young LBQ womxn to claim their spaces.
Ifáṣínà Efunyemi is a human rights defender and advocate, educator, journalist, writer and poet from Belize. She has been in advocacy and volunteerism since age 14 while in high school and has continued on her path of being the voice of the voiceless through her involvement in numerous civil society organizations in Belize. These include the National Garifuna Council which she joined as a teenager and continues to be involved in to promote and preserve Garifuna culture. Since 2001, she has been volunteering with the Women’s Department in Dangriga where she lives. She was a co-founder of the Dangriga HIV/AIDS Society and was instrumental in developing and implementing the Powa fu Women project that was designed to respond to the feminization of HIV/AIDS. Her involvement in this project in 2003 led to her later co-founding the Productive Organization for Women in Action (POWA) which remains active in educating and empowering women and the wider community through HIV/AIDS education and outreach as well as addressing gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, human rights and other issues. She co-founded another women’s organization, Promoting Empowerment Through Awareness for Lesbian and Bisexual Women (PETAL), that also focuses on empowerment and advocacy for particularly lesbian and bisexual women. She is also a co-founder of the Belize History Association which is focused on promoting and accurately documenting Belize’s history. Resulting from her high level of activism, in 2019 she was awarded the United Nation’s Religion Fellowship by OutRight Action International and was also recognized by the Women and Family Support Department in Belize for her outstanding contribution to the Belizean community.
Davis Mac-Iyalla received the Bishop Desmond Tutu Award for Human Rights and Social Justice from the World Pride and Power Organisation. This award reflected Davis’ tireless efforts over the previous twenty years to advocate for Lesbian Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT+) Africans, in the face of significant opposition from the government and religious organizations. In August 2016, Davis founded The Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNOWA) to continue to advocate for LGBT+ Africans in West Africa. Davis lives in Ghana where he continues to develop his work as an advocate, interfaith minister, mentor and educator, traditional leader for LGBT+ West Africans.
Speakers to be announced soon!
Neish McLean is the Caribbean Program Officer at OutRight Action International, based in Jamaica. Neish is a Co-founder of TransWave Jamaica, Jamaica’s first and only organization solely dedicated to advocacy for trans people. Formerly, Neish served as the Vice-Chair for the United Caribbean Trans Network (UCTRANS), the region’s first network focused on advancing the rights of trans people across the Caribbean. Neish has extensive advocacy, governance and fund-raising experience in support of LGBTIQ organizations throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Neish holds a BSc in Psychology which helps in their work as a human rights defender while using their lived reality as a trans masculine person to Neish also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Sports Management. Neish is a sports and fitness enthusiast.
Alexa D V. Hoffmann is a Barbadian-born-and-raised advocate for the LGBTI community, specifically for the Trans, gender non-conforming and Intersex communities, and is the founding Director of Trans Advocacy and Agitation Barbados. Never afraid to branch out and network, Miss Hoffmann is a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People (REDLACTRANS) and the United Caribbean Trans Network (UCTRANS, of which she is also Chairwoman), and has stridently advocated the need for legislation which recognise the gender identities and expression of Trans and Intersex people as well as protect that key population from all forms of discrimination. In 2015 and 2017, Miss Hoffmann assisted with the organising of Barbados Pride, which was originally held in November to coincide with Independence celebrations. In 2018, she spearheaded a Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging Sections 9 and 12 of Barbados’ Sexual Offences Act, which respectively criminalise “buggery” and “serious indecency” and have been used to stigmatise the LGBTI community and oppose efforts to integrate the community with the rest of Barbadian society. Miss Hoffmann is currently undertaking efforts to ensure that the professional lives of Trans people are protected, through an Employment Rights Tribunal claim against her former employer after she was unfairly terminated due to her gender identity. This Tribunal claim is the first ever brought by a Trans person in Barbados.
Liberty Matthyse is the former Legal, Policy and Education Advocacy Officer of Gender DynamiX, joining the team as Executive Director on 1 February 2018. Identifying as a trans non-binary person, she/they hold a Master’s Degree in Law (cum laude) focused on non-discrimination and marriage equality for transgender persons. Liberty also holds qualifications in Project Management, Leadership, Financial Management and Strategic Business Management (University of Cape Town). She/They can be defined as a community-centred, critical-thought, human rights and social justice activist whose passion in fighting for dignity, equality and freedom for trans and gender diverse persons drives their/her dedication to achieving positive change. Author to a self-published book “A Darling’s Journey to Liberty”, in her/their spare time she/they enjoys hiking outdoors, reading and writing, exercising and spending time with loved ones, particularly in their/her hometown of Darling.
Lua Stabile is a Brazilian queer transfeminist and Human Rights defender. Master in gender and international relations by University Of Birmingham, with research on gender ideology, migrations of trans and gender-diverse sex workers. 2019 UN Brazil LGBTI Diversity Specialist, Humanitarian Worker, Chevening alumni and 2019 Outright UN Religion Fellow.
Mukasa is a Program Officer with the International Trans Fund (ITF). He joined the ITF in 2017, where in his role he oversees grantmaking and provides accompaniment support to trans groups through outreach, advice, communication and capacity building. He has also participated in several funder engagements. Mukasa was previously working at the Refugee Law Project for over three years where he offered legal support and protection to forced migrants. Mukasa holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Makerere University and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Taxation and Revenue Administration (PODITRA). Mukasa is a nature lover!