The U.S. LGBT community needs to come out of its “national closet” and join others around the world in establishing basic protections for highly vulnerable populations in places like Uganda, Jamaica and Eastern Europe, according to speakers at a plenary discussion at the 25th International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference (#GLLI on Twitter).
Phillippa Drew, a former high-ranking official in the British government and an out lesbian, said America has a unique voice in the world and has the capacity to extend its moral authority to the LGBT arena, but she urged America’s LGBT leaders to “come out of your national closet and join us.”
Julie Dorf of the Council for Global Equality moderated the panel whose participants included Drew, the mayor of Berlin, Germany, Klaus Wowereit, Former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest, Former U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe, and Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Rights Commission.
Earlier, Mayor Wowerweit delivered a keynote speech reminding the conference’s assembled LGBT elected and appointed officials they had a special role to play in the fight for equality. ”Love between two people can never be wrong,” said Wowerweit, who is openly gay. He urged the officials to leverage their non-LGBT networks to spread that message and enlist allies in business, sport and cultural pursuits to stand with them and the larger LGBT community to bring about real change.
The 25th International Gay + Lesbian Leadership Conference runs through Sunday 6 December in San Francisco. Video of plenary sessions will be available soon at the conference web site.
Philippa Drew | 2009 International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference