Special Update on ILGA World Conference Bangkok
Friday 2 December, Bangkok
During the last week of November, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) World Conference in Bangkok.
The ILGA World Conference is hosted every 2 years around the world and it is the second time it has been hosted in Asia since 1978. During the 5 day conference, LGBTI delegates and allies came together from around the world to meet, discuss and strategise on LGBTI initiatives for the next 2 years.
The first day started with an LGBTI business conference organised by Workplace Pride, an LGBTI business organisation from Amsterdam. During Day 1, the UNDP, World Bank and
Thai local Thai private organisations to shared their research, business cases and best practices in driving LGBTI inclusion in the workplace. I was surprised to see that unlike in Hong Kong, Thai local companies are very active in this area.
The highlight of the conference for me was the key note speech by the newly appointed UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn. His role is to assess the implementation of existing international human rights law in this area, raise awareness of violence and discrimination suffered by LGBT persons, engage in dialogue and cooperate with States to implement measures, and provide advice and technical assistance where needed. He was full of passion and energy and acknowledging the challenges ahead of him, highlighted: ‘With your love, I will survive.’ I was honoured to have the opportunity to meet with him and take a quick selfie! Given Professor Vitit’s extensive experience and expertise, I am confident that the LGBTI community can count on his support in tacking the various challenges they face around the world.
Breakout Session covered a variety of topics such as LGBTI refugees, youth, sex workers and so on. It was inspiring to meet different LGBTI activists and campaigners from around the world, all working for the betterment of LGBTI people. I met partners not only from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea but also Africa, South and North America and Europe. Despite the different challenges that we each face, we were united in our commitment to work tirelessly to improve the lives of the LGBTI community.
I left ILGA World Conference with mixed emotions: I was impressed by the amazing work some LGBTI organisations are doing in other parts of the world but I was also overwhelmed by the life-threatening challenges many LGBTI people continue to face on a day to day basis in their own countries. I left more deeply inspired and committed to bringing about positive social change for the LGBTI community in the world.
For more information of the Conference: http://ilga.org/what-we-do/conferences/