For Immediate Release: August 24, 2001
SAN FRANCISCO - Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists are on their way to Durban, South Africa, to raise the visibility of sexuality at the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation are sponsoring an international LGBT delegation to attend the conference where they will have opportunities to network with other NGO activists and lobby government delegations to the conference.
At the WCAR governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will discuss racism, racial discrimination and related intolerances, and develop shared strategies to address them. The conference will be the largest meeting in the world ever specifically devoted to the struggle against racism.
"The UN Race Conference provides an unprecedented opportunity for activists to focus specifically on the fight against racism and related intolerance, including intolerance of sexual diversity," stated Katherine Acey, Astraea's Executive Director.
"We are coming to the conference embodying a simple message: we cannot separate in our own lives the discrimination we face based on race or based on sexual orientation. The struggle against both must go hand in hand," declared Surina Khan, IGLHRC's Executive Director.
IGLHRC and Astraea will host an LGBT Caucus and will hold a series of workshops on race, sexuality, and human rights at the NGO Forum (August 28 - September 1) that precedes the official UN WCAR (August 31 - September 7). Both organizations jointly released a background paper on the Intersection of Race and Sexuality. The paper will be used to educate activists at the NGO Forum and to lobby government representatives for the retention of sexual orientation in the final document of the conference.
"We are aware of the formidable challenges that lie ahead," stated Ms. Khan.
Last June the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) erased all mention of homosexuality from its final document. Prior to the adoption of this document, homosexuality was hotly debated. The General Assembly was forced to spend almost three hours and cast three separate votes to decide whether an IGLHRC representative could deliver a three-minute speech. IGLHRC was accredited to UNGASS and was allowed to deliver the short speech.
IGLHRC is accredited at the UN WCAR, while another LGBT organization, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), has been denied accreditation.
"We deplore the exclusion of ILGA from the WCAR," declared Ms. Khan. "We are working to create an environment where all our rights are respected, and are focusing on human rights education of activists, advocates, and government officials at the conference."
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to protect and advance the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. For more information, see http://www.iglhrc.org
The Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation is a is a US-based multi-racial feminist public charity whose purpose is to advance the economic, political, educational and cultural well being of lesbians, their families and allies working for social justice both in the United States and internationally. Our mission is enacted through a variety of programs including grantmaking, training and technical assistance, philanthropic advocacy, fundraising and donor services. For more information, see http://www.astraea.org
To see the background paper on the Intersection of Race and Sexuality, go to
For a list of organizations in international delegation, see
The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (Durban, South Africa, August 31 - September 7, 2001), http://www.un.org/WCAR