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MENAFN Press - 20/03/2017
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(MENAFN Editorial)
iCrowdNewswire - Mar 20, 2017

Participants at a gay pride celebration in Uganda. Credit: Amy Fallon/IPS

By Lyndal Rowlands
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 20 2017 (IPS)

A group designatedas a hate group for its 'often violent rhetoric' against LGBTI rights was an invited member of the United States Official Delegation to the annual women's meeting say rights groups.

C-FAM - one of the invited members of the United States official delegation to the meeting - has been designated as an Anti-LGBThategroupby theSouthern Poverty Law Center"for its often violent rhetoric on LGBTQI rights" according to theInternational Women's Health Coalition, who opposed the appointment.

Including C-Fam on the US delegation reflects ongoing disagreement betweenUN member states - and even within UN member states domestically - about the importance of including LGBTI rights within the UN's work.

For the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) community, there were many reasons to come to this year's annual women's meetingwith 'battle scars,' and 'eyes open' says Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International.

In a statement issued in response to C-Fam's appointment to the US delegation, Stern said described C-Fam as an organisation with a "violent mentality" and said that "it is essential that the US uphold American values and prevent all forms of discrimination at the CSW" and that"theUS government must ensure protection for the world's most vulnerable people."

Globally LGBTI people are among those most vulnerable to discrimination, violence and poverty. Yet explicit references to LGBTI rights continue to be left out of major UN documents, including the annual outcome document of the CSW, Stern told IPS.

'I see that the international (feminist) spaces are beginning to be receptive of trans people," — Pepe Julien Onzema

'The agreed conclusions f the CSW have never in all of its history ever made explicit reference to sexual orientation, gender identy or intersex status so that's decades of systematic exclusion,' she told IPS.

'What we're asking is that our allies in government and our allies in different civil society movements understand that we need them to stand up for and with us in demanding inclusive references to our needs.'

However Stern said that she was also 'very happy to say' that there is 'extraordinarily strong representation of LBTIrights' in side events at the year's meeting, which each year brings thousands of government and non-government representatives to New York.

LBTI representatives at this year's meeting included PepeJulien Onzema, a trans male Ugandan activist who was a presenter at a non-government side event on Wednesday.

Onzema told IPS that although he has seen some open-mindedness in including trans people in the feminist movement internationally that there are still some challenges.

'I see that the international (feminist) spaces are beginning to be receptive of trans people," but Onzema added that thinks that there is still "a lot of work to do."

"Even we as activists we are still looking at each others' anatomy to qualify people for these spaces.'

However Onzema who was attending the CSW for the first time said that he had felt welcomed at the meeting:

'I'm receiving warmth from people who know I am trans, who know I am from Uganda,' he said.

The Ugandan government's persecution of the UgandanLGBTIcommunity has received worldwide attention in recent years. International organisations both for and against LGBTI rights havealso actively tried to influence the domestic situation in the East African nation.

The US Mission to the United Nations could not immediately be reached for comment on the inclusion of C-Fam in the US delegation.

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