Birth of The International Movement
There are various years in history that might be marked as the birth of the international LGBTI+ movement, but 1978 is among the more prominent candidates. In August of that year, in the British city of Coventry, the International Gay Association was founded at a fringe meeting of the annual conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. The association was set up by representatives from a small group of countries: Australia, the US, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, the Republic of Ireland, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
As the name betrays, the initial focus was quite limited; only men were present at the inaugural meeting. Yet the effort at international collaboration, both politically and in terms of information-sharing, would have consequences beyond the founders’ wildest dreams. Gender parity was declared to be the ultimate goal, though it would take until 1986 before the name was expanded to ILGA. That easy acronym would stick, even when the association kept expanding the range of its constituent groups.
Currently, ‘ILGA World’ characterizes itself as the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. It has mushroomed to a worldwide federation of 1523 member organizations campaigning for LGBTI rights across the globe. It enjoys consultative status at the UN Ecosoc Council and divides its activities into six regions. The best-known regional division in our part of the world is ILGA-Europe, which was founded in 1996 as a legally independent association with headquarters in Brussels. It acts as an umbrella for nearly 600 European organizations from 54 countries in Europe and Central Asia.
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