Harvard Global LGBTQ Conference

A Call to Action: Advocacy, Agency, and Alliances for a Changing World

LGBTQ rights have witnessed unprecedented legal and political successes in a relatively short period of time across much of the world. Europe, North America, and many parts of Asia and South America have been successful in repealing discriminatory laws and ushering in protections for their most vulnerable communities. In addition, many new governments such as the U.S., Brazil, and others have joined their European counterparts in including LGBT rights as part of their foreign policy and engagement with other governments. Many international organizations and national NGOs also started to establish and strengthen global programs and expand their work outside their own borders.

However, much of this progress is now under considerable stress, as both domestic and international equality efforts face an uncertain future. Democratic elections in Europe and the U.S.A have resulted in a radical and rapid shift in leadership towards conservative values and right wing politics, accompanied by increased vitriol against gender, racial, sexual, religious and other minorities.

The effects of this change will have significant impact on our lives and communities, as we have lost crucial allies in senior government positions and potentially face the suspension or reversal of decades of progress. Increasing numbers of homophobic and transphobic attacks are being reported, targeting specifically queer immigrants and queer people of color. In addition, LGBT activists abroad also face the potential diminishment of political and financial support for their projects and organizations, made all that more severe with the increase in conflict and state repression as well as the impact of mass migrations. There is great uncertainty regarding the policies and politics of the next few years, especially how they will translate on the ground and to the extent our communities will be targeted.

This conference comes at a crucial juncture in which LGBTQ activists are compelled to mobilize once more to act and insure that their lives, livelihoods, families, and communities are safeguarded and protected. It builds on the explorations of intersectionality made in the previous conference but concentrates on how this should and is being reflected on the ground. It heralds a return to grassroots advocacy and community mobilization and engagement en masse to analyze, anticipate, and act for insuring the progress we have made with regards to equality, dignity, and justice is protected and unabated. The coming period also offers unprecedented opportunity to build alliances of resistance with other communities facing similar challenges in our collective fight for civil rights.