Francophone International LGBTQI Network
In June 2018, the Government of Québec (CA) announced that it would provide CA$4 million over five years to assist in creating and sustaining an LGBTQI network for the Francophone world. Montréal International, an organization working with some 65 international organizations located in the city, is sponsoring the creation of this new LGBTQI network. To assist it in this endeavour, it has created an international steering committee of seven members from Québec, France, Algeria and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
During the course of the coming year, the steering committee will work on creating the network, establishing its governance structure and identifying key areas of future programming. The organization’s goals will be to facilitate greater networking and collaboration amongst Francophone LGBTQI groups and persons, create safe and inclusive spaces for dialogue and exchange, strengthen local communities and organizations, and support capacity building.
This network’s creation is a direct response to the needs expressed by delegates to Montréal’s Equality and Legality Conference of LGBTQI rights in the Francophonie in 2017. Participants underscored the fact that most resources and networks available in the international arena are in English and, as such, can often constitute barriers to inclusion and engagement. Data also shows that LGBTQI organizations in Francophone countries are significantly under supported compared to those using English.
Some 275 million people worldwide use French, making it one of world’s most spoken languages. It is used on all continents and the OIF (Organisation internationale de la Francophonie) is the premier international institution that brings together most countries and governments where French is used as a language of government, business or in civil society.
While most French-speaking countries and others who are considered allies of the Francophonie are members of the OIF, some others remain on the outside.
As such and as the new Francophone LGBTQI network is being created, its focus will be to act as a civil society organization engaged to assist and bring tangible support to LGBTQI communities in countries where French can be used as a language to effectively advocate and organize.
LGBTQI Rights in the Francophonie
Although the rights of LGBTQI persons have improved in recent years in many parts of the world, including in several countries of the Francophonie, in many others, LGBTQI persons are still routinely subject to discrimination, aggression and violence, and, sometimes, even death.
In the Francophone world, more than a dozen countries, primarily in the Middle East and Africa, still criminalize sexual relations between persons of the same sex. Convictions for homosexual activity can have serious consequences. In some cases, the death penalty or life sentences still apply. In others, persons charged have to face the real possibility of incarceration with sentences of 3 to 5 years, and in some cases up to 14 years.
In many other Francophone countries, laws of public morality qualify same sex relations as acts against nature and are a means used to persecute LGBTQI persons.
Only a few jurisdictions recognize a person’s ability to change their gender identity or expression and no Francophone country prohibits physical violations of intersex children.
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