Global LGBTI activists will meet, seek support in Berlin

Kyrgyz activist Dastan Kasmamytov (Photo courtesy of The-Activists.com)
Kyrgyz activist Dastan Kasmamytov (Photo courtesy of The-Activists.com)

Twenty LGBTI activists from around the world are scheduled to gather in Berlin, Germany, next week to develop strategies and seek support from 100 mostly Western business leaders and from each other.

The activists were selected to appear June 11 at the First Mile Conference, organized by Uhlala GmbH, a technology company that has sponsored a series of industry events for LGBTI professionals seeking “to strengthen the LGBTI+ community and [to promote] equality in the economy, work place and society in general.”

About half of the activists are from countries with anti-LGBTI laws:

  • Dastan Kasmamytov, an LGBTIQ activist from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan,where an anti-“gay propaganda” bill has passed a first reading in the parliament.
  • Svetlana Zakharova, public relations manager of the Russian LGBT Network.
  • Raymond Bykoukous, supporter and France-based president of a new lesbian rights organization in Cameroon.
  • Toni, a gay Muslim man from Indonesia, who states “I believe in my religion and have faith that it brings a unique peace of mind, but in reality, my religion is […] used as a tool to fight against me.”
  • Jafred of Link to Smile in Kenya. (Photo courtesy of The-Activists.com)
    Jafred of Link to Smile in Kenya. (Photo courtesy of The-Activists.com)

    Jafred of Kenya, representing Link to Smile, a “project offering trainings in skills and LGBTI rights and security topics as well as a place to find shelter and work.”

  • Dominique Menoga, former president of CAMFAIDS in Cameroon,  who is working to establish a network of LGBTI activists for Francophone Africa. (“When he had to flee to Paris because of death threats he swore to himself that he wouldn’t stop the fight even though living in exile.”)
  • Eric, “who offers shelter to LGBTI people in Cameroon who were expelled from home, saving them from living in the streets.”
  • Dimitri, a Russian journalist working in Germany.
  • Jonathan, who “gives a voice to Nigerian activists” (with a link to the 2013 video “Veil of Silence” by the Nigeria-based Initiative for Equal Rights, or TIERS.)
  • Academic S. N. Neck who “from her research background wants to empower the bridge between economy and activism.”
  • Tushar of the I, Ally campaign in India. (“The aim of the I, Ally campaign was to show that India is not that intolerant of LGBTQ people, and that support DOES exist even within our neighborhoods. Currently we have 350 videos in around 7-8 different Indian languages uploaded on the web.”)

The First Mile advisory board, which selected the participating activists, includes:

Boris Dittrich
Boris Dittrich
  • Boris Dittrich (Human Rights Watch)
  • Katrin Hugendubel (ILGA Europe)
  • Sören Landmann (Campaign against Homophobia Germany)
  • Alfonso Pantisano (Enough Is Enough! Open Your Mouth!
  • Stuart Cameron of Uhlala GmbH
  • Klaus Müller (kmlink Consultancy, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum)

Proceeds from the conference will be divided among the 20 activists.

The conference’s appeal to activists was to:

“Share your experiences to an audience of 100 leaders, 19 other activists and an international community and gaining widespread international attention.

“Meeting some highly influential people from various social groups – mostly from business – with differing points of view, who are willing to support with their expertise, contacts and in many other ways.

“A unique and forward-looking dialogue with the aim of enabling one-off or prolonged support.”

For more information, see the First Mile website, send an email to kontakt(at)uhlala.me, or call +49 (0)170 211 5901.

This article was revised June 2 to correct the status of Raymond Bykoukous, who is originally from the Congo and is not in exile.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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