As 2017 got ready to wave goodbye, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) introduced ProtectDefenders.eu to almost a thousand LGBTI human rights defenders and allies, as they gathered together in Poland and Cambodia for the conferences of our European and Asian regions. Defenders from all over Europe met in Warsaw for four days in November around the theme ‘CHANGE! Communities Mobilising, Movements Rising’: it was an occasion to reflect on the challenges we all face in advancing human rights in a world that is growing more and more complex, and on how to do that while leaving no one behind in our ever-diverse community.
In the early days of December, then, more than 300 LGBTI human rights defenders from more than 30 countries – from Lebanon to Japan, from Pakistan to Singapore – came together in Phnom Penh under the banner “United for love”, looking back at the struggles faced by our communities in Asia in the past years and strategizing on ways forward.
Such gatherings offered us a perfect occasion to explain how ProtectDefenders.eu can provide the means to break the isolation of people working to defend the rights of LGBTI communities – exposed as they are to even higher level of stigmatization and human rights violations.
Hundreds of leaflets in English, Chinese and Russian were made available to conference participants, detailing how ProtectDefenders.eu can provide specific support to LGBTI human rights defenders at risk – including a 24/7 emergency helpline. Our staff was also available to answer every question about the mechanism, pointing out that help really is at hand.
Meanwhile, ILGA is also working to document the stories of LGBTI human rights defenders supported by the mechanism: we recently reached one of the activists who took part in the training on digital security that we organised in Bangkok, Thailand in July 2017, and a video interview will be out soon. Watch this space!