ILGA Conference continues despite events in CHCH

By Tema Hemi
  • Wellington

Today was the official opening of the ILGA World Conference which was established in 1978, and it's the first time it's being held in the Pacific. 

The ILGA World Conference brought together more than 500 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders and members of civil society. 

ILGA also launched the 13th edition of its flagship publication 'State-Sponsored Homophobia' that compiles data on laws that affect people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Initially the conference was to run in conjunction with the Wellington Pride Parade, however the parade was cancelled due to the attacks in Christchurch, which caused security concerns for organisers. 

Former Labour MP and transgender advocate Georgina Beyer says, "Well its about standing tall isint it. Its about starring down the politics of hatred and we as a Rainbow community, takatāpui, have endured that also for many many years sadly.

"So the conference delegates who have come from all around the world is very heartening to see."

Beyer had her own concerns about security at the conference and says, "It did cross my mind and after Friday's awful terrorist attack that we might be sitting targets. When you have a thousand plus people from the Rainbow community and supporters marching in a parade so openly its something that we are use to."

The Prime Minister was originally supposed to be a guest speaker at the conference but had to return to Christchurch today. Finance minister Grant Robertson attended the conference on her behalf.

"Its about acceptance in diversity and we've been challenged in New Zealand about that, in the last few days after the terrorist attack on Friday. So in many ways a conference like this are a good thing to have happened here because it reinforces that New Zealand is a country that seeks inclusion. 

"The focus was about the importance of leadership and courage, and organisation and achieving change. Acknowledging that ILGA is 40 years young and has done a huge amount to advance the rights of our Rainbow communities. 

But there's always more to do. In particular for our trans and intersex whānau here in New Zealand its really important that we keep our journey towards social justice going and that will only happen when people stand up and stand out and that what this conference is about for me," Robertson says.