The LBQ Conference: Session by Session

July 31, 2019

BY Fatoumata Coulibaly

Fatoumata Coulibaly, Ivory Coast 

I was very impressed when I attended the session on Gender, Climate Justice and Disaster Response, seeing people who have to fight for their rights to exist and at the same time fight for climate justice, is something that is not easy to reconcile. Seeing this and learning from the results of their research and the actions that they have already carried out has inspired me a lot.

Indeed, I am a volunteer in a local NGO working on climate change issues in the Ivory Coast, and this session was a great opportunity for me to learn about the series of actions already taken in different places and what needs to be done in the next 10 years to reverse the impact of climate crisis.

The session also allowed me to understand that despite living as a minority  we must get involved in civil life, not only advocate for the respect of our rights but also for the respect and protection of nature that allows us to exist.

As a young African woman, the session on  LBQ Adolescents was of paramount importance as women and young people in the region still struggle for their right to bodily autonomy and for the full enjoyment of all our rights.   More often than not the cultural context weakens the work of human rights activists and there are situations that are not taken into account, such as adolescents’ rights and more specifically the rights of LGBTQI adolescents.

In this session, I understood the importance of taking into account the adolescent’s point of view and accompanying them in all that can contribute to their development, and help them redefine and accept themselves. Especially LGBTQI adolescents, who want to have informed conversations  about their identity, sexual orientation and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is not at all easy for them to discuss these issues with their parents given the multiple African cultural and social barriers.

This is information that I could share with the  women’s associations I work with, so that they can integrate it into their daily lives, and in this way we can move towards a thriving  generation  that is able to explore, experience and express their sexualities and identities in healthy, pleasurable and safe ways.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Islam represents 42.9% of the population, as such, homosexuality is still stigmatized, and same-sex couples are not recognized by the government. Human rights defenders and identity-based organisations face similar challenges posed by religion on their work. In this session we shared the antipodes of the biblical and Koranic arguments that heterosexuals use to reject homosexuals and how to deal with discrimination.

This session was beneficial in the sense that these are arguments that I could use for the protection of the rights of adolescents and women in addition to LGBTQI in my country.