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The Fight for Equal Rights for GLBTIs

by Mart van Kuijk in General , 23 januari 2019

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

I am Mart, twenty-seven-years-old and living in Utrecht. My passion is social progress, and I have strong roots in Nijmegen. In my daily life I am consultant in the field of sustainability, and help organizations with themes such as climate change, human rights, and waste.

We often take the seventeen sustainability goals that were agreed on by 193 countries (including North Korea) in 2015 as a starting point in order to achieve a better and fairer world by 2030, also known as the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG).

In setting these seventeen sustainability goals, the slogan “leave no one behind” was chosen internationally. In other words, these goals should include everyone. Last year, however, we found out that there is a substantial group that is not included in this, and which comprises about five to seven percent of the world’s population: equal rights for GLBTI people are not explicitly included in these seventeen goals. That GLBTIs were not included, is due to the fact that a number of countries would not agree to these goals if this would happen.

Something had to be done about that, and so the GLBTI manifesto was born, under the name “SDG LGBTI Manifesto.” This has been signed by sixteen companies and organizations, with 355,000 employees worldwide and a total turnover of 154 billion.

This “Manifesto” was the starting point for my participation in the “One Young World Summit” in The Hague, a conference that brought together 1,800 change makers to get inspired, to make connections, to help each other, but above all to make the world a bit more beautiful. The five-day conference was opened by Her Majesty Queen Máxima.

People from 190 countries flew over for this great happening. Attracted by special speakers, such as Christina Figueres (Climate Negotiator Paris Agreement), Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever), and Muhammad Yunus (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006), for inspiration in one of the workshops, to learn and to expand their network.

It was a grand spectacle with no expenses spared. It also meant long days, in which you easily had thirty speakers to choose from. Fortunately, there was also enough time to get acquainted with organizations that are committed to solving social problems.

The most special thing about the conference was the fact that you had the opportunity to meet people who are working on the same themes (heroes), just from a totally different context. For example, of the 1,800 young people, around twenty of those were working on GLBTI projects. All from the context of their own country, which also defines their limits to a large extent.

I ran into a young man from Burkina Faso, who works there for the GLBTI community by providing HIV/AIDS assistance. This is the only way for him to check whether people, after having problems with the police or the neighbors, are healthy. Burkina Faso is one of the (approximately) seventy-four countries where homosexuality is prohibited by law. He would prefer to start up an organization that is explicitly committed to GLBTI people in the country, but the countries current administration is making that impossible. His drive and stories greatly impress me.

Then I was also allowed to share my story, in a totally different context and with different starting points, but with the same general goal. This resulted in a lively discussion in which we learned a lot from each other. It gave us energy to continue with our fights, and we will keep in touch in the future. That is the strength of the “One Young World Summit.”

The conference and everything that Royal Dutch Shell’s program brought me personally gave me a lot of motivation to continue with this project. In addition, its exposure has ensured that more companies have signed the manifesto: the ultimate goal of the project. The more companies sign the manifesto, the bigger the group with organizations that bring about real and effective change. That way, ultimately, the rights of GLBTIs internationally are secured.

Shell supports these young people, including Mart, with a Scholarship Program. It tries to help them furthering and advancing their ideas and projects.




In the New Issue of Gay News, 334, Juni 2019

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