Home Youth empowerment Sold-out international LGBTQ conference focuses on youth empowerment and human rights • Long Beach Post News

Sold-out international LGBTQ conference focuses on youth empowerment and human rights • Long Beach Post News

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Protecting the rights and safety of these groups was the focus of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association conference, better known as ILGA World, at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach, which started on Monday.

More than 600 human rights activists will gather this week to celebrate the achievements of LGBTQ communities and assess the struggles that remain to be overcome politically, culturally and systemically, according to organizers. Usually the conference seats 800 people, but due to ongoing COVID concerns, capacity has been reduced this year, a spokesperson said.

This conference, which is organized by the It Gets Better Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit whose mission is to uplift LGBTQ communities around the world, takes place once every two years, and for its conference sold out in 2022, the hosts wanted to focus its programming on the challenges facing LGBTQ youth.

Jessica Stern, the United States Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) People, and Special Envoy, smiles to applause during the World Conference of ILGA at the Westin Long Beach on Monday, May 2, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

ILGA is an international organization with 1,700 members in 160 countries and territories who support ILGA’s goals, and guests include United Nations and government officials, academics, donors and volunteers.

During the five-day conference, ILGA members will come together to report on the situation of LGBTQ people on the ground in their home country or territory, discuss the future of the global movement, and collectively chart means to advance equality in the world, according to the organizers. .

There will also be over 100 sessions focusing on topics such as youth empowerment, alliances between feminist and LGBTQ movements, transgender abuse, countering anti-gender rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ legislative movements, and social justice movements across continents.

This year also marked ILGA’s first global conference to be held in the United States since 2001. Although there are dozens of member organizations in the United States, the organization conducts most of its work in d ‘other countries.

An attendee poses for a photo during the ILGA World Conference at the Westin Long Beach on Monday, May 2, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

For example, during the pandemic, in Uganda in East Africa, police detained around 20 homeless LGBTQ youth on what advocates say were bogus charges of violating COVID-19 restrictions and tortured them. in prison, Human Rights Watch reported. In Mexico, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported in 2016 that 1,218 people identified as or perceived to be LGBTQ were murdered.

While US politicians tout this country’s position as the world’s largest economy and its achievements in gender equality, the US, according to organizers, still lags behind in many ways for the LGBTQ community. .

For example, while the United States Supreme Court made the landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage, some states still have outdated laws banning the practice on their books.

Attendees mingle during the ILGA World Conference at the Westin Long Beach on Monday, May 2, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

More recently, ILGA Worlds attendees said they were disappointed with Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill, a controversial bill that limits when and how teachers and school staff can discuss gender. and sexual orientation in the classroom.

Fear of hateful violence also permeates the community.

A UCLA study shows that LGBT people are nearly four times more likely than non-LGBT people to be victims of violent crime, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or common assault.

Crimes targeting the LGBTQ community dropped in Long Beach from four in 2019 to two in 2020, according to a state attorney general database. Statewide, crimes involving sexual orientation rose from 233 to 205. However, those with a gender bias increased, driven by an increase in anti-transgender events from 29 in 2019 to 54 last year.

An audience, some of whom request media anonymity, listen to speakers during the ILGA World Conference at the Westin Long Beach on Monday, May 2, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

And about a year ago, residents and politicians were appalled by the burning of a rainbow-colored lifeguard tower in Long Beach, painted by lifeguards in honor of the month. of Pride, which was replaced that year.

A big concern for LGBTQ youth is homelessness, organizers say. Research shows that LGBTQ youth are significantly overrepresented in homeless populations compared to the general population.

Despite the obstacles, Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s envoy on youth, said dialogues with young people had improved as they championed causes such as supporting mental health and strengthening from the community.

“I would like to take this opportunity to salute and pay tribute to all the young activists who are stepping forward in pursuit of a better future despite considerable risk,” Wickramanayake said in a speech broadcast Monday morning.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia speaks during the ILGA World Conference at the Westin Long Beach on Monday, May 2, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the city’s first openly gay mayor, also spoke about the city’s accomplishments, including its provision of same-sex health care benefits.

Attendees who cannot make it to Long Beach can now register to attend plenaries and some key sessions through an online platform, according to the conference website. The deadline to reserve a place is Wednesday, May 4 at 2:59 p.m.

To learn more about ILGA, visit www.ilga.org.