Activists from Argentina, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay and Vietnam are expected to take part in the inaugural Global Innovative Advocacy Summit that will take place at HRC’s Northwest Washington offices from March 29-April 1.
Special U.S. Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry is scheduled to speak to the advocates on March 29 during a reception at the HRC building in Northwest Washington.
HRC Global Director Ty Cobb told the Washington Blade on Tuesday during a telephone interview that conference participants will discuss ways to further engage and mobilize the LGBT community and its allies in their respective countries. He added that he will highlight HRC’s global advocacy efforts and learn “from organizations that are looking at advancing” their goals.
“It’s really sharing how various movements have made progress in those different categories,” Cobb told the Blade.
The conference will take place against the backdrop of the White House’s continued efforts to promote LGBT rights abroad as part of its foreign policy.
Two Cuban LGBT rights advocates were among the 13 dissidents with whom President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials met in Havana on Tuesday.
A bomb threat and protests promoted the cancellation of an LGBT festival in the Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 19. A State Department spokesperson told the Blade that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and other American officials “have been in contact” with the event’s organizers.
The U.S. in 2014 cut aid to Uganda in response to President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Act under which those convicted of repeated same-sex sexual acts would have faced life in prison.
The Obama administration has faced criticisms over its response to LGBT rights abuses in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries that are seen as U.S. allies. HRC’s decision to serve Coke and Coca-Cola products during a 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony watch party sparked controversy among some advocates who had targeted the soft drink company for not criticizing Russia’s LGBT rights record ahead of the Sochi games.
‘We have an incredible group’ of activists
The HRC summit will take place slightly more than two months after protesters forced the cancellation of a reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual conference in Chicago that was to have featured two advocates from Israel.
Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak at the reception for A Wider Bridge, an organization seeking to bolster “LGBTQ connections with Israel.” Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance is among the organizations that are taking part in the HRC summit.
“It’s not about the broader ideology on global human rights advocacy,” Cobb told the Blade. “It’s bringing together the people doing that work in their countries.”
“We have an incredible group of professional advocates who are moving equality forward in their countries,” he added.