Michael K. Lavers
Original Article: bit.ly/1rSuCyM
A global LGBT rights conference that formally opened on Tuesday in the Mexican capital has drawn hundreds of advocates from 50 countries.
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Executive Director Jessica Stern, Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign, Council for Global Equality Chair Mark Bromley and Chloe Schwenke of the D.C.-based Freedom House are among the nearly 500 people who are attending the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) World Conference in Mexico City. Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, is also in the Mexican capital with a delegation of more than a dozen LGBT rights advocates from the Communist country.
“ILGA is a way to connect with other LGBTI activists from all over the world,” Basu Guragain of the Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal told the Washington Blade. “We can get an idea about what is going on around the world regarding LGBTI rights.”
Tamara Adrián, a Venezuelan trans advocate who is running for ILGA co-secretary general, said two of her goals during the conference are to connect with younger trans activists and to “enforce” connections between activists in different regions of the world.
Caleb Orozco, co-founder of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, told the Blade he hopes the gathering will allow him to highlight U.S. religious organizations that support efforts defending the English-speaking Central American country’s anti-sodomy law. Orozco added the conference also provides an opportunity to raise awareness of efforts to extend rights to LGBT people in Belize and throughout the Western Hemisphere.
“The meeting space is about an opportunity to build alliances and share experiences,” he said.
The Cuban delegation later this week is expected to formally announce it will seek to host the 2016 ILGA World Conference in their country.
Supporters of Mariela Castro, who is director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, are quick to note that she has spearheaded a number of efforts over the last decade to promote acceptance of LGBT Cubans and to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS on the island. These include a condom distribution campaign and the country’s national health care system offering free sex-reassignment surgery to trans Cubans.
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