LGBTIQ+ Delegation at the International Federation on Ageing Conference
LGBTIQ+ human rights issues were given the spotlight at the 16th annual International Federation on Ageing Conference (IFA) in Bangkok, Thailand at the end of June, thanks to the concerted efforts of an international delegation of LGBTIQ+ aging advocates comprised of SAGE’s Director of International Programs, Hannah Yore and partners from Outright International, Mitini Nepal, and EnGendeRights, among others.
Over the past two years, SAGE has been closely collaborating with partner organizations in the Philippines, Nepal, Costa Rica, and El Salvador through the LGBTI Elders Advancing Initiative (LEAP) to expand human rights protections and social and economic inclusion around the globe. The IFA Conference presented a unique opportunity to bring issues of LGBTIQ+ human rights into the international aging space and to inform public dialogue on healthy aging in all of its diversity.
In Bangkok, the LEAP team took this opportunity to create and deliver the following two symposiums:
- “Ageing Under the Rainbow” was a comprehensive presentation on the LGBTI Elders Advancing Initiative, exploring partner organizations’ research findings and concrete ways aging organizations can empower and better support the needs of LGBTI older adults through service provision and advocacy. Panelists included Ging Cristobal of Outright International, Sarita KC of Mitini Nepal, Rey Ravago of the Golden Bekis, and Hannah Yore of SAGE.
- “Transgender, Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Womanhood in Older Age”- Drawing on both their lived experiences and emerging data, panelists “made the invisible visible” by discussing how aging uniquely impacts non-heterosexual and transgender women. Special attention was paid to the importance of intergenerational solidarity and informal care networks among LBTQ women, the effect of discriminatory legal frameworks on LBTQ women, and recommendations for action. Panelists included Samantha Edmonds of the Older Persons Advocacy Network, Jennifer Liu and Ging Cristobal of Outright International, Sudhan Chaudhary, and Hannah Yore of SAGE.
“Without legal protections and competent services, lesbians (both young and old) have relied on one another to sustain community. These intergenerational relationships are a tool for both survival and celebration.” – Hannah Yore, Director of International Programs at SAGE
LGBTIQ+ elders and community leaders, Sudhan Chaudhary from Nepal and Rey Ravago from the Philippines, shared their live testimony during the symposiums providing critical perspectives on LGBTIQ+ aging in their local communities.
“Today, I stand before you as a representative of LGBTI elders from Nepal, and it is with great pride that I share our unique perspective. Our LGBTI elders face numerous challenges, compounded by age discrimination, which further exacerbates the mistreatment they endure due to their identity. However, I firmly believe that even in their golden years, elders possess the power to raise their voices and fight for their rights. It is crucial that we empower them to become digitally savvy, enabling them to navigate the digital landscape and amplify their voices effectively.” – Sudhan Chaudhary of Nepal
“I’ve been practicing deep hospitality to the elderly, and it became my passion. That’s why I want to apply my experiences to my LGBTQ+ siblings by representing my group to various people and organizations. I’m very lucky to attend the conferences and meetings and learning about the issues and consequences of how the world can adopt different challenges and serve all the ageing people. I’m very grateful to the people I’ve met at IFA because they inspired me and blessed me with their knowledge, and I’m hoping all of our efforts may come into fruition in this season of our life.” – Rey Ravago of the Philippines
Central American partners, CIPAC and Aspidh, also presented recorded statements that highlighted the lived experience of LGBTIQ+ elders and landscape data on LGBTIQ+ aging in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panama, while CIPAC’s Political Advocacy Coordinator, Daniela Torres, provided a recorded presentation summarizing research findings on LGBTIQ+ aging in the region.
In addition to the symposiums, SAGE hosted a Networking Event for LGBTIQ+ aging advocates and allies where the new Global LGBTIQ+ Aging Network, a strategic initiative of LEAP, was introduced. This new platform provides an online convening space for LGBTIQ+ aging advocates all over the world to share tools and perspectives through features like the Resource Library and to connect with other movement partners through the Advocates Directory.
In 2023, LEAP partners have successfully leveraged multiple international convenings to bring credible information and the underrepresented experiences of LGBTIQ+ older people to larger aging spaces and LGBTIQ+ spaces alike. Other examples include Outright International and SAGE’s contributions to the United Nation’s Open Ended Working Group on Ageing, and the organizing and advocacy efforts led by SAGE, CIPAC, and Aspidh at ILGA-LAC, a cross-regional LGBTIQ+ conference hosted earlier this year in La Paz, Bolivia.
For more information on the work and vision of the International Program at SAGE, please visit their page here.