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2022 ILGA World Conference takes place in Calif.

Upwards of 600 LGBTQ activists in attendance



Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for global LGBTQ rights, speaks at the ILGA World conference in Long Beach, Calif., on May 2, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Andy Perez/ILGA World)

Upwards of 600 LGBTQ activists from around the world are attending the 2022 ILGA World Conference that is taking place this week in Long Beach, Calif.

Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad, and Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ issues, are among those who spoke at the conference that began on Monday at the Westin Long Beach. Activists from Ukraine, Lebanon and dozens of other countries are also in attendance.

“When you are fighting to decriminalize homosexual status or conduct, secure legal recognition of gender identity, end unnecessary surgeries on intersex persons, or exercise freedoms of peaceful assembly or association, the struggle can be overwhelming,” said Stern on Monday in her remarks. “This is why I marvel at all that you have achieved and all the impact that lies ahead.”

“In case you haven’t heard this often enough, let me say: I believe in you, and I believe in us,” added Stern. “I will do everything in my power to raise the priorities of LGBTQI+ human rights defenders and LGBTQI+ civil society across the Department of State and around the world.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia on Monday noted there “is a coordinated act from extreme forces in our country — and across the world — trying to erase the beauty of our community.” 

“Right now, gay rights in this country are being pushed backwards. Trans and non-binary people are being attacked every single day, and there’s an incredible amount of work ahead, especially to protect young people from these destructive laws,” added Garcia. “The work happening here at this conference is a worldwide effort to represent the LGBTQ+ community and advocate for civil rights. We have to stand up — especially at this moment — for our trans and non-binary community, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to recommit ourselves to this task.”

The It Gets Better Project is the conference’s host.

The conference was to have taken place in last November, but the pandemic postponed it. Some of the conference sessions are taking place virtually.

The next ILGA World Conference will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2024.


2022 Midterm Elections

As votes are tallied, progressive groups celebrate LGBTQ midterm candidates

While final results of the midterm elections were pending as of Tuesday night, several LGBTQ candidates had already made history with their electoral victories



2022 candidates endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund. (Graphic by Los Angeles Blade)

Progressive LGBTQ groups celebrated the pro-equality LGBTQ candidates running in key midterm races across the country on Tuesday, several of whom claimed victory as Election Day stretched into the night. 

Becca Balint and Maura Healey were among the first candidates whose races were called, both becoming the first women and the first LGBTQ people elected to, respectively, represent Vermont in Congress and serve as governor of Massachusetts. 

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports pro-choice LGBTQ candidates, toasted the candidates’ success “shattering lavender and glass ceilings.” 

“The future of LGBTQ equality and women’s rights were on the ballot — and Vermonters delivered tonight,” Victory Fund President Mayor Annise Parker said in a press release on Balint’s win. “For nearly a decade, Becca led efforts to pass meaningful legislation to increase fairness and equity within Vermont. Now, she is ready to do the same in Congress.”

In a press release announcing Healey’s victory, Parker said, “In the face of so much hate and intolerance sweeping our nation, her win is a sign — especially to LGBTQ kids in desperate need of hope — that LGBTQ people have a place in American society and can become respected public leaders.” 

LPAC, a group that supports women and nonbinary LGBTQ candidates running for public office, also published press releases celebrating Healey and Balint on Tuesday afternoon.

Just before midnight, the Victory Fund called Robert Garcia’s victory for California’s 42nd Congressional District. Garcia will be the first openly gay immigrant elected to Congress.

“We are confident Robert’s deep policy experience and ability to build strong, diverse coalitions will make him an exceptional legislator,” Parker said. “His win tonight will inspire countless other LGBTQ and first-generation Americans to pursue careers in public service.”

Democrat and LGBTQ ally Wes Moore also made history on Tuesday, becoming Maryland’s first Black governor-elect in his race against Donald Trump-backed far-right candidate Dan Cox, while openly gay Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) won their reelection bids.

Democrat and LGBTQ ally Maxwell Alejandro Frost, 25, became the first Generation Z candidate to win a Congressional seat, where he will represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the House. 

Per pool reports, by 11:30 p.m. ET, President Joe Biden made congratulatory calls to Healey; Polis; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.); Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee; Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker; Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills; U.S. Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.); U.S. Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser), U.S. Sen.-elects Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.), and Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro.

Meanwhile, Tina Kotek is locked in a close race for Oregon’s governorship whose outcome may not be clear until later this week. If elected, she would join Healey as the nation’s first openly lesbian governor. 

And the fates of LGBTQ candidates in closer races for seats in the lower chamber are still unclear. These include U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), who are running for reelection, along with Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Will Rollins, who are competing for House seats in Oregon and California, respectively.

Heather Mizeur, who would have been Maryland’s first openly lesbian member of Congress, conceded her defeat Tuesday evening to incumbent Republican Maryland Congressman Andy Harris.

A historic number of LGBTQ candidates ran for elected office this year, advocacy groups said. The Victory Fund endorsed 411 people in races in 49 states, D.C., Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, also touted the diverse pool of candidates in the midterms, citing the record numbers of transgender and gender nonconforming people who ran this year. The organization also noted that the electorate is composed of more LGBTQ voters than ever before.

“We will continue to stand and fight every day alongside our allies and partners across the country, in support of a pro-democracy, pro-equality, and pro-choice future,” Interim HRC President Joni Madison said in a press release from the organization.

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