Geneva, Day 1 (October 18, 2008)
Today was the first day of the “From Global to Local” mentoring programme organized by IWRAW-Asia Pacific for NGOs from 8 reporting countries signatories to the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. We reviewed various ways of lobbying and advocating for critical issues of women’s movement in our countries, got a little bit of an inside look into the Committee members, and discussed some common issues.
Before we got very deep into the reviewing process, however, there was an exercise that grouped training participants into country groups to discuss critical issues and come up with a list of overall questions that we would like to raise. The impression Labrys got from this exercise was that mainstream women’s NGOs are very reluctant about including issues of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). The prevailing idea was that SOGI was not that important to be given a separate spot in the list of critical issues, and that problems of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women were already included in the general problems of women in Kyrgyzstan.
We do agree with that – economic and political problems of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are the same as heterosexual and heteronormative women experience. But on the other hand, being of an alternative sexuality with an alternative gender identity makes lesbian, bisexual and transgender people subject to double or – INTERSECTIONAL – discrimination. They are discriminated basing on their gender, but in addition to that, they are also discriminated basing on their alternative sexuality and alternative gender identity.
It took Labrys quite an amount of insistence to put sexual rights as one of the points in the list of critical issues, however, it was clear that there could not be any reconciliation: Labrys will have to deliver a separate Oral Statement to the CEDAW committee members. We want our voice to be heard, and not lost within the voice of mainstream women’s movement that softly but stubbornly refuses to acknowledge our existence.
Announcement for 19 October: Look out for the draft of Labrys Oral Statement!