5 Sep 2009

Freedom to Love

This year's World Outgames also included the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights and Workers Out in Copenhagen. Themed Love of Freedom – Freedom to Love, the conference had an abundance of speakers who were highly acclaimed international LGBT human rights activists, lawyers and politicians. .

Amongst speakers were Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Parvez Sharma, Muslim gay filmmaker who is currently touring the world with his debut film ‘A Jihad for Love’ , a documentary which shows that homosexuality and Islam can and do co-exist, Ritt Bjeerregaard, the social democrat elected Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Cleve Jones, Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Suk Hong, an actor from South Korea who lost his livelihood when he came out and Lawrence M Mute, Commissioner with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Thomas Hammarberg said that transgender people should have their human rights fully respected which was in recognition of the launch of the issue paper 'Human Rights and gender identity'.

Georgina Beyer was reported has giving a memorable speech. Her career from drag queen performer, dancer and sex worker to the first out Transgender elected Mayor and then MP in New Zealand under Helen Clarke’s Government is very inspiring. I have heard her speak and she is the sort of speaker that can rally people around.

Kemone Brown who works as a volunteer research co-ordinator for Women for Women in Jamaica was also another featured speaker who is always inspirational. She told the conference about the climate of being lgbt in Jamaica and how unsafe it could be. However, Kemone is not willing to stand back and fights for better living conditions and anti-discrimination for lgbt people in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. She also advocates amongst youth on HIV and Aids promoting safer sex.

Rasha Moumeh, Human Rights Watch spoke about her work on issues of sexual and gender justice in the Lebanon. She also spoke about the situation in Palestine, Middle East and North Africa.

There were a number of workshops including on the reading down of 377 in the Delhi High Court which also touched on Commonwealth countries in general, LGBT Human Rights and the European Union, Working with European Trade Unions for LGBT Human Rights and Unions and LGBT Organisations working together for LGBT rights.

The International Business Equality Index was launched at the Conference with BT being named as the world’s most lgbt friendly business.

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