Satellite Meeting on Racism, Discrimination and Intolerance of Sexual Diversity

2003-01-24 00:00:00

Quito, 13 March 2001

With broad-based participation by organizations and movements defending sexual
diversity, and especially the right to freedom of sexual orientation, the Satellite Meeting on
Racism, Discrimination and Intolerance of Sexual Diversity was held in Quito (Ecuador)
this past March 13, by invitation of the Latin American South-South Dialogue, the Andean
Region ILGA, and the ALAI Women's Area. The Meeting was a preparatory event leading
up to the Forum of the Americas for Diversity and Plurality, also held in Quito (March 13-
16), and part of the preparatory process for the World Conference on Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Related Forms of Intolerance, scheduled by the
United Nations for later this year in South Africa.

The Satellite Meeting's purpose was to contribute to preparation of strategies, proposals
and priorities for all the organizations from this continent involved in this process, for
collective submission to the Americas Forum and, consequently, to the different
preparatory stages for the NGO Forum and the World Conference.

The inauguration of the Satellite Meeting featured Laurie Wiseberg, NGO Liaison Officer
for the World Conference Against Racism – United Nations High Commissioner on Human
Rights (UNHCHR), Phumi Mtetwa, Co-Secretary-General of the International Association
of Lesbians and Gays (ILGA), and Irene León, Coordinator of the Americas Forum for
Diversity and Plurality. Also present was Sandra Aragón, on behalf of the Secretariat of
the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) of the UNHCHR.

In her opening address, Laurie Wiseberg remarked that the upcoming WCAR, to be held in
South Africa, is the third UN World Conference on the issue of Racism, but that it is the
first one to be so comprehensive, including "other related forms of intolerance". This
makes it possible to examine the relationships between racism and other critical issues,
such as discrimination based on sexual orientation, which occurs the world over and,
nevertheless, has found few governments responsive to these problems. She pointed out
that, in the framework of the WCAR, this will by no means be an easy issue, and will call
for great efforts to get any references to it included. Accordingly, she made the
commitment to ensure participation by representatives of sexual diversity in both the
PrepCom II slotted for Geneva (Switzerland, 21 May – 1st June), and the World
Conference, to be held in Durban (South Africa, 31 August – 7 September 2001).

Irene León then stressed that "sexual diversity is out of the closet", ready to respond to the
challenge of building diverse, pluralistic societies, jointly with other societal stakeholders
who are raising their voices in this regard. She highlighted the importance of placing
homophobia and lesbophobia on a par with racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia,
the eradication of which are the focus of the World Conference organized by the UN.

León recommended that the Satellite Meeting examine and emphasize the existing
intersections between the issues raised by the Conference and discrimination due to sexual
orientation, in order to formulate concrete proposals and strategies for influencing that
Conference. Among other intersections, she identified migration flows caused by
discrimination regarding sexual orientation, which happens in all countries; and the
multiple forms of specific repression affecting LGBTs belonging to racially discriminated
groups, among others.

Phumi Mtetwa emphasized the challenge of building alliances with other movements,
entities and institutions, as well as the importance of analyzing the expressions of racism,
xenophobia and intolerance that, in conjunction with discrimination due to sexual
orientation, affect the LGBT population throughout the world. She also pointed out that it
is necessary to generate proposals and initiatives from LGBT organizations, with an eye to
confronting and transforming these oppressive relationships that affect people both
personally and collectively.

It is important that, for the first time in the process leading up to the WCAR, the issue of
sexual diversity was the theme of a Satellite Meeting, which will make it possible to submit
the resulting Declaration as an official document for that world event. During the Americas
Forum, the issue of sexual orientation was discussed holistically within the various working
groups, both thematic and sectoral, so that the Satellite Meeting's proposals were not
restricted to a single sector, but mainstreamed through the declarations and action plans of
the various groups.