LGBTQ Elected Officials, Appointees from Colombia, Australia, Canada, UK, Urge International Cooperation to Promote LGBTQ Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday, Dec. 10 (Washington, D.C.)—Today a panel of LGBTQ elected officials and appointees discussed the need for LGBTQ leaders to work globally to develop best practices and support activists in countries that are behind in the struggle for equality. Panelists included Colombia’s only openly LGBTQ Senator Claudia Lopez; Sydney Assembly Member Alex Greenwich from Australia; Randy Boissonnault, LGBTQ2 Advisor to Canada’s Prime Minister; and British Member of Parliament Nick Hebert. Astraea Foundation for Lesbian Rights executive director J. Bob Alotta moderated the panel.

Working with LGBTQ elected officials and leaders from other nations – and building an international movement – should be a priority, said Sen. Lopez of Colombia. “We need to work internationally to share experiences and provide support, and then we need to work on broadening social progress. We need to set up an agenda and our priorities in a way that we can build new majorities.”

Panelists stressed the importance of securing LGBTQ equality legislation in their countries, with Greenwich of Australia commenting, “It’s quite shocking being the only person on the panel from a country that doesn’t have marriage equality.”

They agreed that while legislative victories are empowering for the LGBTQ community, legal protections are not enough, and emphasized the need for cultural change to increase acceptance in civil society. “Countries need to ensure there is cultural change and people are able to live their lives in a way that ensures their rights without recourse to the law,” said Herbert of the United Kingdom.

Boissoneault of Canada also warned that the LGBTQ community must stay active despite legal victories. “Rights can be gained and rights can be taken away, and we always need to stay vigilant, and that is what we need to be working on.”

The panel was part of the larger three-day Victory Institute International LGBTQ Leaders Conference – which brings together more than 500 LGBTQ elected officials, appointees and leaders determined to continue progress on LGBTQ equality.

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Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute works to increase the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in public office and to provide programming, service, and other support to ensure their success.