Herstory was made on the second day of the CSW in New York. The Dutch government, with support from their Belgian and Portuguese counterparts, hosted a panel on human dignity for lesbian and bisexual women and transgender persons. It was the first, ever, official government organised event at the CSW on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The meeting space was packed with good attendance by representatives from LBT organisations throughout the world, including many Hivos partners. Carlien Scheele, co-chair of the session and head of the Dutch government delegation, was adamant in her opening speech about the role of civil society organisations in making the event possible and tabling LBT issues at the CSW. A deliberate choice was made to have a co-chair from civil society in the South: Geeta Misra, Executive Director of CREA (India). CREA is a women’s rights organisation with a track record of working on women’s sexual and reproductive rights with an inclusive perspective towards women who tend to be excluded by the mainstream of women’s organisations. This means inclusiveness towards lesbian and bisexual women, transgenders, sex workers, and disabled women. CREA has been an active member of the Indian civil society coalition that achieved the landmark of decriminalisation of homosexuality in India in 2009.
The representatives from the Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese governments shared their latest policy ambitions and challenges in support of promotion of the rights of LBT persons. Common for the three countries is their acknowledgement of inadequate attention for the specific issues of lesbian and bisexual women and transgenders in their overall sexual diversity policies. Gays remains dominant in the LGBT acronym and the policy responses. Representatives from LBT organisations from various parts of the world shared the need for specific attention for the rights and issues of lesbian and bisexual women and transgender persons within sexual diversity policies and programmes. The participants expressed appreciation for the Dutch initiative. They had however hoped for more time for dialogue and interaction.