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The UK government announces future leadership of global LGBTI initiative

On Monday 10 December 2018, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the UK government announced it will lead a global initiative dedicated to the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons around the world.


At an event hosted in London attended by officials and human rights defenders, Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, announced during a speech to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UK and Argentina will co-chair the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) from June 2019. Both countries will assume their responsibilities for a two-year term and co-organise a major global conference in 2020.


In a subsequent statement, Lord Ahmad commented:


‘It is a modern tragedy that there are people in same-sex relationships around the world who are discriminated against, persecuted, and tortured because of their gender, faith, creed or sexual orientation.


Britain will continue to defend human rights, stand up for our values, and for the rights of communities who suffer around the world.’ 



Commenting on the announcement, Paul Dillane, Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust, said:


‘Kaleidoscope Trust welcomes the announcement regarding the UK’s future leadership of the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC). Founded in 2016, and comprising 40 countries, the ERC has the potential to be an important mechanism for governments, civil society and other key partners to work together to advocate for equal respect for LGBTI people and communities around the world. We look forward to working with the UK Government and civil society activists internationally during the next stage of the ERC’s development’



What is the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC)?


Founded in 2016, under the leadership of Uruguay and the Netherlands, the ERC aims to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons and promotes inclusive development by engaging with members, non-member countries, civil society organisations and multilateral agencies.


The ERC comprises 40 member states. It convenes four key working comprising governmental officials, civil society activists, multilateral partners and UN agencies, focused on:


  • international and regional diplomacy
  • LGBTI inclusion in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • coordination of donor funding
  • national laws, policies and practices


Since 2017, the ERC has been led by Canada and Chile. In August 2018, representatives from member states plus over 100 civil society activists from around the world, participated in the ‘Leaving No One Behind: the Equal Rights Coalition Global Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development’ in Vancouver, Canada. Subsequently, the ERC issued a joint communique where member states pledged to ‘work together to build a world where the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all are respected and where no one is left behind, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.’


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada congratulated British Prime Minister Theresa May on the UK succeeding Canada as co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition during a recent bilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Kaleidoscope Trust’s work with the ERC


Kaleidoscope Trust has actively engaged with the ERC since its formation in 2016. Our work has included the following:


  • Kaleidoscope Trust is a member of the ERC Civil Society Core Group, comprising NGOs in a variety of countries actively involved in engaging with the ERC, and the ERC working group on international and regional diplomacy.  


  • We were selected to represent UK civil society at the founding conference of the ERC in Montevideo, Uruguay in 2016.


  • We have participated in regular dialogues between the ERC and civil society representatives including in Geneva (2017) and New York (2017). We were also selected to participate in the ‘Leaving No One Behind: The Equal Rights Coalition Global Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development’ in Vancouver, Canada (2018).


  • In January 2018, we were delighted to host Randy Boissonnault MP, a member of the House of Commons of Canada and Special Advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau on LGBTQ2 issues, during The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN) Advocacy Week hosted in London. During a meeting with activists from 35 countries, Mr Boissonnault was able to answer questions about Canada’s approach to international LGBTI equality including in respect of the ERC and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, hosted by the UK in April 2018.



  • In July 2018, the UK government announced its intention to bid to become a co-chair of the ERC via the LGBT Action Plan published by the Government Equalities Office (GEO). We have participated in a number of meetings with the UK Government to discuss these plans. For instance, in November 2018 we organised a roundtable with governmental representatives and civil society partners, including a representative of the Dignity Network, an alliance of human rights and LGBTI organisations in Canada, which is currently a co-chair of the ERC Civil Society Core Group. The meeting focused on increasing the effectiveness of the ERC as an institution.