Organised by Justice and Peace and Netherlands Helsinki Committee
PERSPECTIVES FROM GRASSROOTS HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Human rights defenders, particularly those that defend LGBTI+ rights, have faced increased challenges to their work, health, and daily life as a result of COVID-19 measures. Many LGBTI+ rights defenders feel unsafe in their family homes and have not been allowed to gather in the safe spaces they have created with their communities. Access to healthcare facilities for LGBTI+ people relying on life-saving medicine and treatment has been severely restricted due to the priority given to treatment of COVID-19, when this access was already limited given the stigma attached to their needs and conditions. Despite this, they continue defending human rights in their communities.
This event is a virtual discussion with two LGBTI+ rights defenders from different parts of the world, bringing to the forefront the impacts of government responses to COVID-19 on the work and lives of LGBTI+ defenders and the communities they support. The discussion will also explore solutions, examples of communities in action, and recommendations for different actors on supporting human rights defenders.
Sidita Zaja, human rights defender, and Executive Director of the NGO PROLGBT in Albania. Sidita is a partner of NHC, and is part of their project Countering Discrimination and Protecting LGBTI Rights in Albania. Sidita has a background in International Law and Human Rights, and has experience in the fields of community building, awareness raising, and advocacy. Her work is now focused on the development sector, building capacities, and advocating for young LBGTI+ people. She aspires that her work would contribute to raising the standards of life for LGBTI people’s in Albania.
Vincent Obwanda is a grassroots human rights defender from Kenya and a former participant of Shelter City, an initiative of Justice and Peace Netherlands that provides safe spaces to human rights defenders at risk. Vincent currently works as a Programme Officer at a community-based civil society organisation called Pema Kenya, which advocates for the human rights and social inclusion of gender and sexual minorities in his country. As a Policy and Advocacy Programme Officer, Vincent is identifying, prioritising and analysing the issues that affect the day to day life of LGBTI+ persons. He is also a Co-Founder of the HIV & AIDS People’s Alliance of Kenya established in 2010, which provides health services and promotes healthy living for men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers living with HIV.
This event is hosted by The Hague-based human rights organisations, Justice and Peace Netherlands and Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC), and is part of the NvdD 2020, an annual nationwide evening of discussions and events dedicated to raising awareness about liberty, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.