OutRight Now: OutSummit 2019

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OutSummit 2019


Hi Friends,

Today is Human Rights Day! Celebrated on December 10th every year, this day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 1948.

This document established the basis of human rights law, and their key principle - universality. In the first article, the declaration sets out that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

All human beings. It is so simple, and clear, that this document is meant to encompass all humans, regardless of any distinguishing features, such as race, gender, disability, religion, or, indeed, sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. Yet we know all too well that the human rights of LGBTIQ people are often ignored, violated, and even contested as somehow “special”.

Because of this, for almost ten years OutRight has been organizing an annual Advocacy Week. During the week of Human Rights Day we bring almost 40 activists – Envoys as we call them – from across the world to New York, train them on UN advocacy, and organize over 50 meetings with different State missions, UN departments and agencies, special procedures, or influential individuals, to ensure that those with the power to make change hear from LGBTIQ people about the concerns, issues and priorities facing us. Consequently we can also hold them accountable for ensuring that all humans do indeed have access to their human rights.

To achieve sustainable change public facing discussions need to take place in addition to closed-door advocacy. So five years ago we launched OutSummit - a one day conference bringing together LGBTIQ activists, and allies from across state, private sector, academic, and civil society boundaries providing a space to share information, celebrate progress, and strategize for the future.

This year’s OutSummit, held on Saturday, December 7th, had almost 300 participants, two high-level panels, six workshops on a range of topics, and a keynote speech delivered by the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Today, on Human Rights Day, I can loudly and proudly say – there is no doubt that this year we have made the point that the “all” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights most certainly includes LGBTIQ people. But, as the IE SOGI reminded us on Saturday, “over 2 billion people live under criminalization laws [relating to sexual orientation and gender identity]”, so our fight continues.

Happy Human Rights Day!

Jessica Stern
Executive Director, OutRight Action International


Photo courtesy of Brad Hamilton Photography

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