Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) annual Global Summit took place in Washington DC this week.
The summit saw 29 attendees from 27 countries come together to discuss the global LGBTI rights movement.
The four-day summit, which concluded on Friday (26 April), included a number of workshops and events on how to progress the cause of LGBTI rights.
Items on the agenda included talks on legal rights, advocacy campaigns, roundtable discussions, and allying with businesses.
Jay Gilliam, HRC’s Director of Global Leadership, praised the event in a blog post.
‘At a time when so many LGBTQ people’s lives are at risk around the globe, the ability of advocates to collaborate on innovative tools advancing basic human rights and LGBTQ equality is crucially important,’ Gilliam wrote.
‘We are thrilled to welcome these advocates whose commitment to advancing LGBTQ equality in some of the world’s most challenging places is truly remarkable.’
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Trump ‘is a big concern for the global LGBT community’
The summit was held against a backdrop of further instances of the Trump Administration’s woeful record on trans rights.
Trump’s ban on trans troops serving in the US military went into effect on 12 April. This week also saw the news that the White House is moving to remove healthcare protections for trans individuals.
Speaking to the Washington Blade, Ukrainian LGBTI rights activist Ruslana Panukhnyk, said that Trump ‘is a big concern for the global LGBT community’.
‘We still have a lot of questions and they are not answered yet,’ she added.
Panukhnyk, who is the director of KyivPride, the annual pride event which takes place in the Ukrainian capital, was also keeping an eye on her home country.
The day after the summit kicked off, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a Ukrainian TV comedian, was elected as the country’s president by an overwhelming margin.
Panukhnyk said that she and other Ukrainian LGBTI rights activists ‘don’t know what to expect from’ Zelenskiy, because he ‘doesn’t have any platform or strategy’.
Damián Cabrera, the founder of the Puerto Rico LGBTQ Health Services Directory, discussed the ongoing fight for LGBTI equality in his country following several natural disasters.
Cabrera said that his organization was ‘born from the need’ for health care providers ‘who know how to care for the LGBTI community’.
Cabrera added that LGBTI Puerto Ricans’ vulnerability to violence, discrimination, and poverty was ‘even more visible’ following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma while lambasting Trump administration’s response to Maria.
‘This is one more example of colonial violence,’ he said in reference to Puerto Rico’s status as a US commonwealth. ‘We are truly good citizens to be exploited and to give to the U.S., but when we are seen as different when we are in need during a situation like this.’
2018-19: A mixed bag
The past 12 months have been a mixed bag for LGBTI rights around the world.
There have been major breakthroughs, such as the repeal of Section 377 in India, which decriminalized homosexual sex for the most populous country on earth.
South America also saw progress, with Costa Rica poised to be the first country in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage and the signing of the Trans Rights Bill in Chile.
Homosexuality was also decriminalized in Trinidad and Tobago in September last year.
However, there have also been a number of setbacks.
Brunei’s implementation of the controversial Sharia Penal Code which punishes male homosexual sex with death by stoning received international condemnation.
The openly homophobic Jair Bolsonaro being elected as president of Brazil has sent shockwaves through the LGBTI community.
Southeast Asian countries Malaysia and Indonesia have also experienced a spike in the persecution of their LGBTI communities.