Welcome to the fifth annual OutSummit, a global summit for the human rights of LGBTIQ people. OutSummit brings together LGBTIQ activists and allies from across the globe to share experiences, build networks, and come up with strategies to overcome the challenges we face in our respective contexts.
This year’s theme is “Pushing the Boundaries of LGBTIQ Activism”, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate time to have focused discussions around this theme. The number and diversity of our allies have grown. We have made significant progress across the world. But the efforts of our opponents have also become more strategic and coordinated.
Since the last time we hosted OutSummit, Angola, Botswana and Bhutan have decriminalized same-sex relations. Taiwan, the Cayman Islands and Ecuador legalized same-sex marriage. The World Health Organization removed ”gender identity disorder“ from the International Classification of Diseases. The mandate of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was renewed, with more support from a broader range of countries.
But there have also been setbacks. To name a few, the anti-gender movement has gained ground. US authorities have amped up an attack on the rights of trans people. Right-wing civil society has expanded their work geographically and in the corridors of the UN. A bid to decriminalize same-sex relations in Kenya failed. Countries which have not criminalized same-sex relations in the past, such as Indonesia and Egypt, are considering bans.
The context we are working in is becoming increasingly polarized. This is a time when pushing the boundaries of our activism is absolutely crucial to ensuring that the hard-won battles for equality do not backslide, enabling us to continue taking steps towards achieving a world in which we can live free from discrimination, harassment and violence purely for being the gender we are, and loving whom we do.
OutSummit will be followed by Advocacy Week at United Nations headquarters, an annual event in which over 40 LGBTIQ activists from across the world advocate for LGBTIQ equality directly with influential governments and UN officials. The conversations we have at OutSummit today will support the advocacy many people in the room will go on to conduct next week.
OutSummit is the result of the tireless work of numerous people. First and foremost, we thank our speakers, participants and LGBTIQ activists for traveling so far to share your experience and insights. Thank you to the Sorensen Center and OutRight staff, board, interns and volunteers for their work in organizing the event, and the CUNY Law Review for their support.
Let us push the boundaries of our activism together today, and every day, to find brave, creative and sustainable solutions for our future.
For human rights for everyone, everywhere.
OutRight Action International
Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice