New international francophone Alliance for equality and diversity sees the light of day

May 16, 2019

Today, in the presence of Nadine Girault, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Hubert Bolduc, President and CEO of Montréal International (MI), announced the launch of a new international organization, Égides – l’Alliance internationale francophone pour l’égalité et les diversités (international francophone alliance for equality and diversity), which will act in the interest of LGBTQI individuals (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex) in the international Francophone community.

Hubert Bolduc, President and CEO of Montréal International, presented the first Board of Directors created after an international call for nominations. The 17 members from 12 French-speaking nations not only reflect the rich diversity of the LGBTQI community, but also have close familiarity with the specifics of the various regions.

“I am very pleased to be part of the launch of Égides – Alliance internationale francophone pour l’égalité et les diversités, an organization that will coordinate action to defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals. I would also like to reiterate the government’s support in advancing the rights of LGBTQI individuals and the importance of promoting fundamental principles that Québec wants to defend around the world, including equality for all citizens. We need to align international leaders with our values. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to announce that my department will support a call for projects to promote sexual diversity and protect the rights of LGBTQI individuals. It’s a step towards eliminating discrimination,” said Minister Girault.

As for Ms. Sonia LeBel, Minister of Justice and Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Homophobia, she stated: “For over 40 years now, Québec has been taking concrete action to fully recognize the rights of sexual and gender minority individuals. The Government of Québec would like to maintain its leading role in promoting equality. That is why we are so proud to be associated with this project that will foster greater openness to sexual and gender diversity, here and around the world.”

“Over the past year, we met with and consulted over 250 LGBTQI organizations, governments, INGOs and multilateral organizations, as well as 1,200 people from around the world,” said Mr. Bolduc. “We are so proud to have played a key role in creating this new, independent organization whose activities will have a significant impact on the lives of so many people, and which we will continue to support in its mission to defend, promote and advance human rights around the world.”

It is worth noting that, given its extensive expertise in supporting international organizations, Montréal International was mandated in 2018 by the Government of Québec, to create and support the operation of an alliance that promotes the advancement of LGBTQI rights. This project will receive $4 million in funding over five years.

Égides: a name that stands for the defense and promotion of LGBTQI community
In Greek mythology, égide in French, was a shield carried by Zeus and Athena, symbolizing sovereign power that defends and protects. Adding an “s” at the end of égide reflects the great diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQI community across the francophone world.

“All around the Francophonie, people are still being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation, their gender identity and gender expression, or their sexual characteristics. In many French-speaking countries, this is a reality that compromises personal safety,” said Esther-Léa Ledoux, a new Board member and spokesperson of Égides. “The name Égides represents a beacon of hope, inspiring and bringing people together around a common cause.”

Targeted programme to meet needs
The first Board of directors, which will hold office until the founding meeting of Égides in 2020, will complete the structuring of the organization and establish a programme framework geared to the needs expressed in Francophone communities.

“Until then, our work will consist of laying the foundation for an inclusive and democratic organization that takes into consideration the needs of its members. We will invite organizations to join Égides, we will support them in their endeavours and create safe and inclusive spaces,” added Esther-Léa Ledoux. The Board of directors has already given itself the mandate to develop a Fund – the Fonds d’appui à la diversité et l’inclusion (FADI – diversity and inclusion support fund) and to develop with its partners a pilot project to bolster capacity building in West Africa. Égides is currently in discussions with international LGBTQI organizations to establish key, long-term collaborations.

Égides headquarters at UQAM
Égides decided to base its headquarters at UQAM. The university is pleased to be so closely connected to such an international project that brings people together, working to protect and promote LGBTQI individuals. “By choosing UQAM, at the invitation of the rector, Magda Fusaro, Égides is confirming its interest in the expertise of our large research community, including the chair on homophobia, the international human rights clinic, and our sexology researchers, feminist studies, community health, social intervention and psychology,” pointed out the Vice-Rector of Human and Organizational Development, Louis Baron.

Montréal International will officially pass the torch to Égides’ Board at the first Board of directors meeting planned for July 5 to 7, in Montréal. The official website will also be launched shortly, at www.egides.org

Montréal is home to 66 international organizations—the highest number in North America, behind Washington, D.C., and New York City. IOs contribute with 1,700 direct jobs and $350 million in economic spin-offs every year.