Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Day 3 of the Workers Out Conference!

And the whirlwind continued today as there were more plenaries, more workshops, and more "oh no its the last day of Workers Out and I need to meet this person, and do that task, and visit this location". And somehow everything gets done.

The morning plenary was a treat. The speakers were Marcela Sanchez Buitrago from Columbia, Bin Xu from China, Morten Kjaerum from Denmak and Pascal Lepine from Canada. Each shared a different perspective in the forum entitled "National, Regional and International LGBT Human Rights: Our Goals and How to Get There". It was Bin Xu who told of China's Camp La La tha moved the audience to the edge of their seats. Camp La La was a workshop event with flip charts, small group discussions and things that we take for granted when we have a union course. But imagine this being done with lesbians, in China, for the first time ever. Incredible to see the advances being made in the LGBT communities in China.

It was interesting to have Pascal Lepine speak. His position is the Secretary General of the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Having a businessman speak to a group of prodominantly trade unions (or left leaners) was a gamble for the organizers, but one that paid off (so to speak). It is necessary to see where LGBT workers are, and not all are in the public sector, and what rights they have. The presentation led to much discussion between sessions.

The workshop I attended in the morning was entitled "Using the Internet to advance our Community: Building organizational capacity and writing about LGBT Travel and Culture Worldwide". Rather than describe the workshop, I encourage you to check out the new links found on the right hand side of the page.

After a lunch break it was off to another workshop - "The role of Unions in Working towards LGBT Equality". Here we had presenters from Slovenia, Australia and Canada. Questions were raised such as - how the LGBT activists from around the world can stay connected after conferences like this? What medium is best for promoting and advancing issues? What is the relationship between unions and political parties? How can we build on past successes and share in the best way with others? Lively discussion ensued after the presentation.

And then the final plenary - an opportunity to look at International LGBT Human Rights. Dignitaries from Sweden, Thailand, South Africa and the United States shared insites as to how international coalitions worked, but stressed the importance of grassroots movements at a local level is a crutial means for making global change.

Music, Speeches, Tears, Three wonderful days of the Workers Out Conference. And then Paula Ettelbrick, former Executive Director, International Gay and Lesbian human Rights Commission, turned to the audience and said "and there you have it. Its now up to us." The activists in the room, and the activists around the world, are ready for the challenge.

Thank you for travelling with CUPE. I'll have one more blog with some final images in a few days.

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