Latin America & North America host workshops at 25th ILGA World Conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil

As the world is increasingly connected through information technologies, the International Resource Network (IRN), (www.irnweb.org) has developed an active network of scholars, activist and artists that not only do on the ground organizing but use the IRN website to share and archive information, build relationships and support visibility and space for LGBT communities globally.

The IRN took the opportunity of the ILGA World Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 4th to 9th to discuss effective transnational organizing because activists, scholars and artists from around the world were present for a conversation on these issues. More than 300 activists from 76 countries attended the 25th World Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 4th to the 9th of December 2010.

The International Resource Network (IRN) hosted two workshops at the 25th World Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 7th and 8th 2010 to provide a space for discussion about transnational organizing as well as using the web as a tool for organizing LGBT.

The first workshop began with a panel of Coordinator Jasmin Blessing and board member Eben Diaz of IRN Latin America. Activists, Academics and Scholars representing LGBT communities from around the world attended the workshop to exchange experiences, challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned between Latin American and Caribbean countries that are working on implementing a LGBT human rights perspective in national policies. The IRN representatives discussed the work accomplished in their region and summarized the results of the IRN virtual discussion called “Planning for Action: Good Practices and Lessons learned, implementing LGBT rights on a national level in Latin America and the Caribbean. Workshop participants then shared their insight and knowledge of successful LGBTI organizing in Mexico and Argentina.

The second workshop focused on the pressing issue of International Solidarity and its opportunities and limits in global LGBT organizing. Many people would like to show more international solidarity and are seeking ways to support LGBTI people living in countries where persecution and discrimination are severe. Presentations highlighted how the IRN uses the web as a powerful tool to organize against lgbt oppression. Workshop participants from all over the world then discussed ways to strengthen solidarity and planned coordination between organizations while at the same time respecting the various cultural and political realities LGBTI people face around the world.

The workshop began with a panel of IRN Coordinators from North America (Mark Blasius), Latin America (Jasmin Blessing), LA board member (Eben Diaz) and Krister Karttunnen from SETA Finland. The representatives discussed the history of the IRN and the work accomplished in their regions.

Mark Blasius highlighted the beginning of the IRN 8 years ago and the recent launch of the IRN’s work in the US and Canada after successfully securing funds for IRN North America. Jasmin Blessing and Eben Diaz highlighted IRN Latin America’s successes and challenges in 2010 and assisted participants to become IRN members on the IRN Website. The new IRN website allows users to create their own blogs, groups and ejournals as well as share events, videos and resources with the global lgbt community.

The IRN workshops sparked intense discussion during the conference and went in line with the principal conclusion that emerged during the 25th World Conference of ILGA, that the International LGBTI Rights movement should be the forging of strong alliances with other people and institutions in civil society, who support the principles of equality and freedom for sexually diverse people and communities (LGBTI) all over the world.

Mark Blasius also seized the chance to interview LGBT human rights activist Ir. King Oey, from Arus Pelangi (“Rainbow Stream”)the Indonesian Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual & Intersex Communities, formed in January 2006 in response to a desperate need in Indonesia for formal legal representation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Communities. Jasmin Blessing interviewed Graciela Balestra and Silvina Tealdi from Argentina, founders of Puerta Abierta Center (“Open Door”), Latin America’s first community center for gay senior citizens.

The IRN continues to disseminate invaluable information about gender and sexuality, build relationships and support visibility and space for LGBT communities in seven regions of the world.