What a year 2022 has been! And, as we come to the end of it, we ask ourselves: is this the new normal that we were hoping for? Our global family finally got reunited in person, and we have had lots to celebrate. Yet, the world around us seems ever more unsafe by the day.
Authorities had brutal responses to the social unrest that continued to build after the Covid-19 pandemic upended everyone’s lives. Civilians are bearing the brunt of intensifying conflicts, war, or of dramatic takeovers of power, and those who are already targeted with discrimination in their daily lives are even more at risk of paying a higher price.
Amidst all this, in 2022, ILGA World has continued to be there for our global LGBTIQ communities, calling for more solidarity, and forging unity wherever anti-rights actors are fabricating conflicts to divide us.
As we look back on this year, we want to thank you.
For holding on even when resilience seemed impossible to muster.
For speaking out even when your safety was on the line.
For everything you did for our communities.
Your existence, and your work to advance the human rights of LGBTIQ persons, gives everyone hope and fills us all with gratitude.
For almost three years, we were separated from our chosen family with only screens to keep us connected.
At ILGA World, we have been extremely proud to have created one of the first occasions in which our global LGBTIQ community could come together again. Our 2022 World Conference in Long Beach, CA, United States, held under the theme “LGBTIQ Youth: future present change” and hosted by the It Gets Better Project, truly felt like rains after a long drought!
With almost 900 LGBTIQ changemakers present, both in person and virtually, and 137 sessions in five days, together we took a deep dive into the state of human rights for our community globally, and we reminded each other that we are not alone in our fight! This conference marked also the first time that three countries’ Special Envoys on LGBTIQ human rights attended the conference together. From the United Nations, three Special Procedures mandate holders and the Youth Envoy joined the conference, too and in a moment of increased, concerted attacks against our rights, such statements of commitment and solidarity are more important than ever.
The work that our communities are doing is bringing about change!
In a landmark decision, a UN committee found that the criminalisation of consensual, same-sex intimacy between women is a human rights violation. CEDAW also called on States to adopt comprehensive measures to protect lesbian, bisexual, trans, and intersex women.
During the year, four countries – three of which in the Caribbean! - did away with colonial-era laws and decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual acts: Singapore, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados. Marriage equality became a reality in Cuba, Slovenia, Chile, Switzerland, and all across Mexico, while Andorra legalised civil marriages. France, New Zealand, Vietnam, Israel, and Greece have introduced mechanisms to ban so-called ‘conversion therapies’, and other jurisdictions worldwide are heading in the same direction.
Spain and Scotland are heading towards new and better laws to legally recognise a person’s gender, and Andorra has introduced its first law on the matter. Kenya and Greece have introduced legislation to ban unnecessary surgeries on intersex children.
Despite the many celebrations during 2022, we also had a lot to be extremely concerned about.
Our communities worldwide have been the direct target of violence and hate, to an extent that was unprecedented in recent years. Attacks during Pride marches and against queer venues have left communities mourning in Oslo (Norway), Bratislava (Slovakia), Colorado Springs (United States), and Münster (Germany).
Hostile legislative moves have occurred in several countries while, outside the halls of power, attacks or threats were targeting medical facilities providing for gender-affirmation treatments, or venues offering drag queen shows.
With regressive laws and violent actions by State and private actors alike also threatening LGBTIQ persons around the world in all regions, we remain vigilant and committed to fighting and pushing to see positive change happening everywhere!
A group of people cheers for the camera at the 2022 ILGA World Conference.
In front of them, on the floor, is the depiction of a Progress Pride flag, with text reading 'You are welcome here'
Our member organisations – now numbering 1,869 from 169 countries and territories – continued to change the world in a myriad of ways.
We continued to support them every day with advocacy opportunities, research, and resources, and to be led by them in everything we do. And the impact is showing!
In July 2022, we were part of a global effort that led to the renewal of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: 1,256 civil society organisations from 149 countries worldwide engaged in a powerful advocacy and communications campaign demanding on the Human Rights Council for such an important mechanism to be renewed!
We also continued to co-organise virtual Advocacy Weeks at the United Nations, gathering activists to engage in the Universal Periodic Review or on trans-specific issues. For the first time ever, we coordinated such opportunities also specifically for intersex activists, in a week of dialogues and events that culminated in 82 civil society organisations worldwide calling on States to end harmful practices against intersex persons.
We provided key input and guidance on the work of many UN Special Procedures, and supported activists worldwide as they raised important human rights concerns with the UN Treaty Bodies. In one of these occasions the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights made its first-ever recommendation in relation to the rights of trans persons citing the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)!
Beyond the UN, we made sure that LGBTIQ issues were high on the agenda in key international spaces. Partnering with the Sport and Rights Alliance, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and the LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Sports Coalition, we raised awareness of the intersecting human rights failures connected to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and continued pushing to make sports a safer and more accessible environment for all.
Our presence in the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality made sure we keep advancing equal rights also in the world of business, and we trained hundreds of corporation employees to ensure they fully understand why this is important.
We called on rejecting stigma, and ensuring equal access to vaccines and healthcare as countries were facing monkeypox outbreaks.
Throughout the year, we continued to centre the diversity of our member organisations’ experiences and voices – be it with dedicated campaigns on the occasion of IDAHOBIT, Pride Month, or Bisexual Visibility Month, or with periodic Instagram takeovers for our members to connect and share more about their work.
We continued providing our members with vital research– including with a brand-new toolkit on advocacy for legal gender recognition, and with factsheets on the SOGIESC work of UN Special Procedures mandates – as we prepared to launch our new, revolutionary in how our research is structured and presented: our ILGA World Database and Treaty Bodies Academy are just around the corner now…
The ILGA World Board poses for a photo during their meeting in November 2022
All of this work would not have been possible without our 19 Board members and 35 committee members who volunteer their time, energy, skills and passion to keep ILGA a truly movement-owned organisation.
During 2022, our team has continued to expand.
In March, we welcomed Gurchaten Sandhu, our new Director of Programmes, and over the year more people joined us to make sure we could redouble our efforts within the UN programme (Guillermo Ricalde, and another colleague whose name is withheld for security concerns), the Gender Identity & Expression and Sex Characteristics programme (Dennis van Wanrooij), on communications (Suelle Anglin), membership (Demet Gümüş), and finances (Vasilis Balasis). Moreover, our new project on decriminalisation and support to ILGA regions has just started, led by Stephanie Leitch!
We are so grateful to the ongoing work of all the members of our staff - who also include Andrew, Chamindra, Daniele, Eli, Gabriel, Julia, Lucas, Paula, Polyxeni, and others whose name is withheld for security concerns.
A special shout-out also to the 11 junior consultants that worked with us this year: Ahmed (Germany), Aigerim (country withheld), Aoife (Ireland), AR (Philippines), Claire (Australia), Daniel (Brazil), Dhia (Malaysia), Diego (Peru), Doug (Venezuela), Emilia (Colombia), and Jo (Portugal), as well as all the consultants and volunteers who have made our work possible!
In 2023, our team will continue to grow – making sure we can continue to serve our communities as best as we can! We are currently advertising for new positions at ILGA World, so please share them and apply for these positions during the festive seasons!
A delegation of the ILGA World staff poses for a photo during our staff retreat in October 2022
2023 will be the year in which our research and trainings will see major updates: we will soon launch a new, ground-breaking project to make sure that our communities can easily access all the resources they need for their advocacy, always updated and ready to be used in their work. Stay tuned!
It will also be the year in which we will continue strengthening our dialogues and alliances with feminist movements, battling together the anti-rights and anti-gender rhetoric that is causing so much harm across communities globally. We will also kickstart a new series of communications dedicated specifically to our members, and look more specifically at how the digital divide is affecting our LGBTI communities across the world. We will also review our governance procedures, and start the process that will lead to our new Strategic Plan in 2024.
But for now, we look back to an extraordinary year one last time: we extend our warmest thanks and appreciation on behalf of the ILGA World Board and our ILGA World Staff and Volunteers, to all of you who have contributed to this year’s success.
With best wishes to all for rainbow peace and joy during the holidays and festive season!
Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown
ILGA World Co-Secretaries General
ILGA World Executive Director