The “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on LGBT Human Rights Advocacy” conference held on Friday, February 8 brought together an international group of scholars and practitioners in law, activism, and social science to address key issues regarding the global challenges and opportunities for LGBT rights. Hosted by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Center for International Comparative Law at the Law School, the day consisted of five panels of presentations followed by engagement with the audience. Issues discussed included whether or not the push for legislative change is overly emphasized in the activist community, how to establish avenues of activism in countries where there are no predecessors in civil or women’s rights movements, the stigma of “Westernization” associated with LGBT advocacy in certain countries, the complex relationship between religious faith, public views, and government policies regarding LGBT communities, and ways to connect academics and advocates in a way that allows for shared resources to affect social justice.
The conference participants brought international legal knowledge, experiences from the field, and scholarly research and statistics on LGBT populations from various parts of the world in order to exchange insights about strategies for achieving legal and policy reforms and establish new networks of expertise. Already the conference has inspired one of the participants, Paul Johnson of the University of York, to create a blog regarding the European Court of Human Rights cases addressing LGBT rights issues.