As the top city for the number of international conventions and with the second highest number of consulates in North America, Montréal is already home to 65 governmental and non-governmental organizations. There will soon be a 66th organization joining the city with the creation of the international francophone network dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people.
“The idea was born last year during the Canada Pride event in Montréal,” explains Daniel St-Louis, who is in charge of setting up this network. “A conference on LGBTQI rights highlighted widely diverse situations among French-speaking countries and communities and the extreme isolation that some communities endure. International organizations already exist but most of them only work in English. Language should not be an obstacle to getting help and advancing one’s rights.”
Following that conference, recommendations were made to the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, who has just provided a budget to create the new foundation to be headquartered in Montréal.
The foundation will have a dual mission: defend LGBTQI rights in French-speaking countries and communities and support the endeavours of local, often underground, organizations. A committee is already working on naming this new INGO, as well as structuring the organization and financing it for the long term. The official launch is slated for May 2019.
Recall that among 84 nations that make up the International Organisation of La Francophonie, 14 countries still ban sexual relations between same-sex individuals. Violators could face imprisonment or even a death sentence (Mauritania). In many other countries, public morality, religious or social laws attack behaviours deemed “acts against nature” and are used to persecute LGBTQI individuals.
“We are fortunate in Montréal in terms of diversity, both cultural and sexual. This acceptance is the result of years of demands and dialogue. Today, and thanks to this francophone network, we will be able to support others to advance fundamental rights around the world,” concludes Daniel St-Louis.
To learn more
2017 Canada Pride conference (French only)