Consortium understands the enormous frustration, confusion and anger surrounding the Government's international LGBT Conference "Safe To Be Me". We would like to provide some key information to clarify the context of the conference, what it is and why it is happening now, and also outline Consortium's current position. As an organisation with 500+ member groups, we know that there will be a wide range of responses to and opinions on the event and we will seek to provide information and support to allow each member group to choose to engage, or not, in the way that is right for them.
International LGBT+ organisations, and those undertaking elements of international work, based in the UK, have a long standing relationship with, particularly, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The FCDO have also provided a large amount of funding for international LGBT+ work over the years, infinitely more than has been allocated domestically (in this context we mean in England given equalities is a devolved matter). The UK Government is a member participant in the 42 member state intergovernmental body, known as the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC). This exists to bring civil society and governments together to advance the human rights regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or sex characteristics. The UK Government is also a member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network, aiming to share knowledge and discuss solutions to combat discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. UK Government is currently the co-chair of these bodies and one of the expectations is to host an LGBT+ conference. This follows the many conferences that have gone before this, having taken place across the world. This year's event will effectively see three conferences in one-the ERC conference, meeting of the EFPN and the UK-led international conference. This is an important piece of context in the design and delivery of this conference. The ERC and EFPN are unique opportunities to bring government officials, ministers and civil society organisations together to commit resource and funds to tackle discrimination and oppression for our LGBT+ communities globally.
This is not a defence of our UK government and its lack of substantial engagement and delivery for our LGBT+ communities, and in particular for our trans and non-binary sector organisations. We continue to challenge the government on what more it will do to tackle the unacceptable level of transphobia in particular that we have seen developing across the country, partly as a result of ministerial action/inaction. As part of this challenge we have a duty as the national umbrella body for LGBT+ organisations in the UK to constructively engage with government, and seek to change things from the inside.
We understand the voices and communities calling for a blanket boycott of the international conference and any activities related to it. Given our unique position, Consortium is unable to commit to any sort of blanket ban itself if we are to continue with our core aims, but will remain fully supportive of those organisations, both Members and non-Members who feel they have no choice but to be vocal and active on this issue. We stand by you as organisations, and whilst we make no assumption that we will be invited to attend the conference, in our conversations and dialogue with government we will continue to champion community voices in order to seek proactive change. As an organisation Consortium will never stand aside and say nothing. We will use our position to challenge, to leverage space for others to voice their positions, and support others to raise these very valid concerns with officials directly.
We will always work to build stronger LGBT+ communities. We stand with all trans and non-binary people – in defending their human rights, dignity and safety.
We stand #TogetherWithTrans
If you have any thoughts or concerns about this, or would like to connect with us to explore ideas around your group’s actions and activities in regards to this, please feel welcome to contact our team.