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Sunday, 11 September 2011

New international LGBT human rights organisation launches

By Paul Canning

A new international LGBT human rights body based in the UK will launch Tuesday 13 September.

The Kaleidoscope International Diversity Trust has been endorsed by all three major British party political leaders and its Honorary President is the Speaker of the British House of Commons, John Bercow MP.

In his endorsement the British Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Our country has made real progress on LGB and T equality and, without forgetting how far we've still got to go domestically, it is right that we should now increasingly turn our attention towards bringing about change abroad."
"In some countries, it's simply appalling how people can be treated - how their rights are trampled on and the prejudices, and even violence, they suffer. So I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform. That's why I am delighted to send my best wishes to Kaleidoscope, and wish them well in their work " 
"Be in no doubt, this is a hugely important issue to this Government. Last March, we published an update on our plan on LGB and T issues. It included fourteen areas where we want to act internationally, covering issues like asylum and protecting the rights of British citizens living, working or travelling abroad. We look forward to the contribution that Kaleidoscope will make to the debate on and progress towards equality worldwide.”
At an event for LGBT Pride Month in June Cameron picked on the UK's lobbying of African government's on LGBT human rights as an issue to showcase his government's LGBT credentials.

He specifically singled out Malawi for mention in his remarks, delivered to a Downing Street reception to which many of Britain's gay and lesbian great and the good were invited.

He claimed that the British coalition government's commitment to not cut its foreign aid budget meant it carried "moral authority" when speaking to global south countries about "what we expect from them".
"I’m very proud of the fact we [put] huge pressure on the leader of Malawi about an issue in that country but I’m convinced we can do more. We have got the ability to speak to African leaders, African governments, about this issue that I know concerns everyone here tonight. And it concerns me," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Nick Clegg, said that Kaleidoscope has a "innovative and unique approach".
"The vision this organisation is articulating - for a world where everyone can express their secuality without fear of prejudice - is one all liberals stand behind."

And we share your belief that global problems, ultimately, have grassroots, local solutions," Clegg said.
The Trust says that it will work to support LGBT human rights campaigns around the world "guided by local needs and the help we are asked to give". It is a not-for-profit organisation.

It has identified five key areas in which it plans to help:
"In many countries," they say "the media present a very distorted image of what it means to be gay or lesbian. Those who promote discrimination and hatred find it much easier to get their message across than those who argue for understanding and mutual respect." The Trust says it will work on ensuring that "the case against homophobia" gets a hearing.

The Trust says that they bring together "people with wide experience of politics, diplomacy and campaigning" and plan to use them "to apply pressure for change on governments, international organisations and those with the power to make change a reality."

Lance Price
The director of Kaleidoscope is Lance Price, a former BBC journalist and special advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He said:
“So many people have given up their time and energy to make Kaleidoscope possible. They know who they are it’s now our responsibility to translate their hopes and efforts into something that can really make a difference. I am especially grateful to those women and men born and brought up in countries where just to be gay is to be in danger. Their experiences and their views have helped shaped everything we plan to do at Kaleidoscope."

“Now we look forward to welcoming new supporters and getting down to work. The scale of the task appears daunting and it is. But wherever there has been progress, where unjust laws have been repealed, and where homophobic attitudes have been successfully challenged, the process was invariably started by a few brave individuals. They felt isolated, they faced abuse and attack, but they knew that they had right on their side."

“There are men and women with just the same courage, facing just the same threats and dangers, in every country where discrimination and persecution persist. They too have right on their side. With your help they can feel less isolated and be better equipped to take on the challenge they face.”
Said supporter Bisi Alimi:
"I was forced to leave my home country, Nigeria, because of my sexuality. My dream is that others like me will be free to stay and be happy surrounded by the love of their friends and families."

Disclosure: The author has advised Kaleidoscope.
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