LGBTI Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay


Activists from around the world gathered in Uruguay for the first global LGBT rights conference to have taken place in Latin America.

The Montevideo 2016 LGBTI conference was a major global LGBTI rights conference to have taken place in Latin America. Jessica Stern, OutRight’s executive director and Kenita Placide, Caribbean Advisor at OutRight attended the conference that was organized by the governments of Uruguay and the Netherlands and the organizations Ovejas Negras (Uruguay) and CoC Netherlands.

The conference was attended by:

  • 39 governments (some with multiple representatives);
  • 90 activists;
  • regional and international institutions (United Nations, World Bank, Organization of American States, among others); and
  • private foundations.

The respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs for Uruguay and Montevideo opened the meeting with messages that referenced the massacre in Orlando, the Latin American leadership at the UN Human Rights Council, the creation of the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and more. The United Nations Sec-General Ban Ki-Moon sent a video message that was shared during the opening speeches. United States Ambassador Samantha Power also sent a video message.

In preparation for the conference, there were working groups of states, civil society, and multilateral institutions dedicated to:

  • shrinking civil society space,
  • the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
  • funding,
  • and diplomacy.

The conceptualization and prioritization of these four themes went through multiple iterations. First, each working group produced a background paper in advance of the conference. Next, civil society organizations met during a closed-door preparatory meeting to focus on specific priorities across each theme. By the end of the conference, the participants refined the priorities and recommendations again to produce a final set of agreements (publication forthcoming). OutRight focused on the diplomacy working group preceding and during the conference.

On the first day of the conference, the "Equal Rights Coalition" was formally launched by the convening governments, and by the last day, 30 founding members were announced. The coalition was launched with a skeletal format; see the founding principles of the coalition. This coalition will consist only of governments. The role of other stakeholders, such as multilateral institutions and civil society, is to be determined.

There was a healthy debate about the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC). The civil society organizations present in Montevideo met briefly to brainstorm how the coalition could work, including by recommending:

  • substantive consultation with civil society organizations (CSOs) both within their countries and at the international level.
  • follow-up work to implement the recommendations from the working groups and themes from the conference
  • audit and domesticate regional and international commitments with regad to LGBTI rights
  • pledge to commit to legally prohibit forced and/or non-consensual surgeries on intersex people; and
  • pledge to full legal gender identity recognition based on self-determination.

The next step for the Equal Rights Coalition will be for the states to meet in the Hague to flesh out their objectives, structure and activities. OutRight looks forward to the development of a plan of action for the ERC and follow-up to the conference in general in the months ahead.

Sunday, July 10, 2016 at 12:00am to Friday, July 15, 2016 at 11:45pm
Montevideo, Uruguay