Please join us for the latest Human Rights Speaker Series, hosted by the University of Essex Human Rights Centre and the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub.
The protection and promotion of LGBTI+ rights is a global challenge. For decades, LGBTI+ rights have been marginalised, with States failing to recognise the full humanity of LGBTI+ people. While many key global milestones have been met over the past few decades, including the publication of the Yogyakarta Principles in 2006 (supplemented in 2017) and the creation of the mandate for the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016, there is still a long way to go. There is no country in the world that fully respects and protects LGBTI+ rights and international human rights law in this area still lags far behind.
In this panel, we will hear from a series of experts who are working broadly within the realm of LGBTI+ rights, both at the international and domestic level. They will share with us their experiences of working in the field and the challenges they face. They will also offer careers advise for those who may wish to pursue a career in this field.
This event is to be held to mark International Tolerance Day (16th November 2021), following UNESCO’s Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, adopted in 1995. While, indeed, this event will be focusing on much more than mere ‘tolerance’ as it is commonly understood, we are mindful that the Declaration asserts that ‘tolerance’ is deemed to be neither ‘concession, condescension or indulgence’ but rather ‘an active attitude’ of recognition of the universality of human rights,’ and ‘respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.’ You can read the Declaration itself here.
Professor Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion of Belief and Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University of Essex
Chair: Dr Emily Jones, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, University of Essex
Dr Jay Stewart, MBE, CEO / Co-founder of Gendered Intelligence
I’ve been involved in the trans community since 2002 and delivered my first arts-based project called “Sci-dentity: what’s the science of sex and gender?” for young trans people in 2004. Since then, I’ve been passionate about improving the lives of trans, non-binary and gender questioning people, especially young people, and am keen to increase opportunities for trans people’s voices to be heard in all of their diversity, intelligence and richness.
In 2008, I co-founded Gendered Intelligence (GI) and now oversee the main activities across the organisation in my role as CEO. Gendered Intelligence is now a registered Charity, after establishing itself as a Community Interest Company in 2008. We provide activities, support, training and resources for trans communities and all those who work with or support trans and gender diverse people. We specialise in supporting young trans people between the ages of 8 and 30. As well as leading GI on a day to day basis, I remain part of the Professional and Educational Services team delivering presentations and consultancy to a wide variety of organisations.
I have been involved in delivering all aspects of GI’s work at one time or another, including projects such as ‘What makes your gender? Hacking into the Science Museum’ – a Heritage Lottery funded project in partnership with the Science Museum, and ‘GI’s Anatomy: a life drawing project for trans and intersex people’ funded by the Welcome Trust.
I sit on a wide range of forums and networks such as the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity; the National Transgender Advisory Board for trans prisoners with the Ministry of Justice and the Trans Learning Partnership. I acted as an independent adviser to the Ministry of Justice review into the care and management of transgender offenders, and gave oral evidence to the Trans Inquiry for the Women’s and Equalities Select Committee.
I’m very enthusiastic about education and learning; my favourite subject is gender – there’s always more to discover. In 2013 I gained my doctorate in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths College, University of London with my thesis “Trans on Telly: Popular Documentary and the Production of Transgender Knowledge”. I was awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List for services to the trans community. I have published widely on the subject of trans culture, communities and equality. I am also a trustee of Galop – an LGBT+ charity anti-violence charity.
Alma Aguilar Betancurt, IGLA World and Project Officer of the Love Alliance at Aidsfonds
Alma Aguilar Betancurt (she/her) is a trans woman and human rights defender from Colombia. She holds an MA in Human Rights and Cultural Diversity from the University of Essex and has experience working in diverse regional and international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World). Alma has experience engaging with the universal system of human rights protection through her work at ILGA World an as a human rights defender in Colombia advocating for the human rights of indigenous women with diverse and ancestral gender identities and expressions. She is currently the Project Officer of the Love Alliance at Aidsfonds, a project that seeks to advance the SRHR of LGBTQI persons, sex workers and people who use drugs in 10 countries across the different African regions.
Catherine de Preux de Baets, Human Rights Officer, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Catherine de Preux De Baets is a human rights officer who has been working at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the last 14 years. She recently joined OHCHR Regional Office for East Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she is the Regional Gender Adviser. Between 2016 and 2021, she advised the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and provided substantive support to the mandate’s activities (country visits, thematic reports, complaint procedure, exchange with stakeholders, etc.). Prior to that, she worked with the Treaty Bodies (CCPR, CED, CAT, SPT, CEDAW, CRC, and CERD), the Universal Periodic Review, the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, the Humanitarian Funds on Torture and Slavery, and briefly supported the Tunisia Country Office. She was also involved in the Treaty Body Strengthening Process and has experience in providing technical assistance to States, delivering capacity building trainings, and developing and managing IT-related projects. She hold a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland.