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May 17: Important messages for the advancement of LGBTQI+ rights

Co-learning and networking event for ACTIF partners

From May 6 to 9, 2024, partners from the 11 projects funded by the Act Together for Inclusion Fund (ACTIF), managed by Equitas in collaboration with Dignity Network Canada and financed by Global Affairs Canada, gathered in Ottawa to discuss the challenges and best practices for conducting international solidarity projects for the rights of LGBTQI+ people.

It was an opportunity to create synergies between organizations from some fifteen countries, and to learn together by sharing lessons learned. In addition, participants took part in Dignity Network Canada sessions and panels to reflect on Canada’s role in the world for the promotion of human rights related to sexual orientation and characteristics, gender identity and expression (SOGIESC). This led to important exchanges and productive meetings between activists and members of the government present at these activities.

Several key messages emerged from these important discussions. On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and Pride Month, Equitas, in collaboration with ACTIF partners, share some of them:

International solidarity helps to advance the rights of LGBTQI+ people

“There is a spontaneous solidarity between activist members in the North and South, as well as South-South. This spontaneous solidarity created around the same issue stimulates a dynamic of perpetuation of actions undertaken for the rights of LGBTQI+ people.”

Flexibility is key to project success

“The context of projects linked to LGBTQI+ issues requires a great deal of flexibility, concerning planned activities that will potentially have to be modified, adapted or cancelled for security reasons. All international cooperation projects need flexibility, but this is even truer for ACTIF projects, which are more impacted by political changes, homophobic laws and so on. The context is volatile, and we need to be prepared in advance for possible violence.”

Local approaches must be promoted

“Organizational strengthening must respect organizations’ autonomy: each organization has its own way of doing things and knows its own context. Donors and Northern organizations must recognize and respect the value of local approaches. Adaptations and changes in practices must be made on both sides: local organizations must adapt to certain requirements of [Northern-funded] projects; but Northern organizations must also adapt to the practices of Southern organizations.”

Partnerships must be fair and based on trust

“The results we achieve depend not just on what we do, but on how we do it. For effective and sustainable projects, we need to build North/South relationships based on mutual trust, fairness and equity. We need reciprocal agreements and contractual arrangements that reflect these values.”

We need to continue and increase funding

“Currently, less than 0.1% of Canada’s international aid targets the rights of LGBTQI+ people. We’re talking about it more and more, and Canada recognizes that it’s an important issue. But talking about it isn’t enough. For meaningful and lasting change, we need to secure more long-term funding.”