Lesbian Visibility at ILGA World


What are the most pressing issues for lesbians globally? What are the challenges and have there been any wins for the lesbian movement? These issues and more will be discussed at the lesbian pre-conference during the ILGA World Conference in LA, 2-6 of May. RFSL is supporting lesbian-led organisations EL*C and LESLAC, who're working together to make this global gathering of lesbians happen.

During the pre-conference, there will be an open mic where lesbian activists from 6 different regions across the world will present what’s going on in their regions. Andrea Ayala, International Advocacy Advisor at RFSL, thinks there will be many similarities. To them, the most important question for the global lesbian movement right now is visibility. Visibility is fundamental to be able to raise awareness of the problems lesbians face. But to Andrea, it’s also important to not only focus on the challenges. 

– We struggle a lot with all the pressing issues and forget to celebrate and recognise wins. Sometimes they’re small, but we have them, Andrea says. 

RFSL works with supporting underrepresented groups, such as trans and intersex communities but also bisexual and lesbian organising. From a global perspective, RFSL is one of the leading LGBTQI-organisations. How the organisation uses its platform and resources can have a big impact on the communities that’ve been left the furthest behind. 

– We’re one of the top players around LGBTQI-issues, and what we do gains a lot of traction. But it’s important for us to use our platform to uplift other organisations, in this case lesbian-led ones, Andrea points out. 

Challenges for lesbian organising

Lesbian global organising can be difficult. This is due to several things. One part of the problem is that organisations from the Global South, in general, are run by volunteers and therefore have a lower capacity than organisations with staff. There’s also a lack of funding opportunities specifically for lesbian activists, organisations and initiatives. Even with support from bigger LGBTQI-organisations, funds for things such as translators are hard to come by, making it difficult to have a truly global lesbian movement.

– A lot of the challenges are related to the underfunded reality that the lesbian movement face, not only in the Global South but also in the Global North, Andrea explains.

Andrea has high hopes for the outcomes of the pre-conference. The goal is to create a 10-item agenda with the most pressing issues for the global lesbian movement. This can not only be used for advocacy, but also as a tool which lesbian activists and organisations can use when approaching donors.

– We’re hoping to strengthen lesbian organising and increase the capacity of the global lesbian movement. Hopefully, we’ll see the results of this work at the next global conference with a lesbian focus, Andrea says.

Learn more about the ILGA World Conference.