Conversation Cafe: How do we queer peace and security?
In March of 2023 I had the opportunity co-organize and co-host the first Conversation Cafe alongside the CSW67 in NYC. The event provided a space for those interested in learning more or sharing your ideas about Queering Peace and Security. The event was in-person event will take place in the format of a conversation café guided by facilitators to discuss how and why it matters to Queer the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agendas.
The event was co-hosted by:
Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL), Philippines chapter
The event also included facilitated discussions on Queering Peace and Security across various contexts. You do not need to identify yourself as part of the LGBTIQA+ community to attend this event. We look forward to celebrating the existing efforts to Queer Peace and Security and to co-creating new ways forward to amplify LGBTQIA+ leadership in peace and security. This event was trans inclusive and all participants are required to comply with the code of conduct included below.
Themes for the tables included:
Queering Peace and Security - Leadership from the Global South
Queering National Action Plans
Queer Youth Leadership
Feminist and Queer Alliances
Queering Peace and Security - From Local to Global
Notes from the conversation cafe tables:
Leadership from the Global South:
It is crucial that LGBTQI+ organizations are reached out to from the very beginning to address lack of knowledge and local context.
We are experiencing resistance around including LGBTQI+ issues in peace and security work by feminist movements and there is concern that anything including a broader gender approach will be shut down within the Security Council and General Assembly.
It is important to address the role of colonization in bringing a gender binary, and many Indigenous groups (e.g. Mexico) do not all acknowledge themselves as "men" and "women".
The WPS and YPS agendas create an important space for key LGBTQI+ issues to be addressed (including violence against trans women, death penalty, hate crimes, etc.).
Young people are using the YPS agenda to push for the inclusion of LGBTQI+ issues within the peace and security sector and address areas where the WPS agenda is limited by being overly binary and exclusive of the LGBTQI+ community (especially the trans community).
We currently have an estimated 1.8 billion youth between the ages of 15-30 worldwide and many have identified youth as a key actor to advance the inclusion of LGBTQI+ issues within peace and security work. Young leaders working in YPS and LGBTQI+ issues must be fully and meaningfully engaged in conversations around Queering Peace & Security and must be involved in all aspects of this work.
The YPS agenda has the unique partnerships pillar which creates an important avenue for partnership with LGBTQI+ organizations and activists.
Organizations/entities working on WPS and YPS are already working with LGBTQI+ individuals, whether they realize it or not, so it is important to be intentional in that work. E.g,, if an organization is working on WPS and Refugees, they are already working with LGBTQ+ refugees. There is not a lot of clear data representing the accurate size of the LGBTQ+ community globally, but we exist globally (not just a western concept) and are impacted by all issues covered under the WPS and YPS as well as additional security threats based on being LGBTQI+.
Local to Global:
There is significant exclusion of LGBTQI+ individuals in humanitarian assistance programs.
We need to ensure the LGBTQ+ experience is not generalized as it is different globally and many actors are not aware of the true reality within certain regions.
It is important to address online violence against LGBTQI+ individuals and organizations through the peace and security agenda (links to cybersecurity work already happening in the peace and security sector).
The LGBTQI+ community feels unheard and ignored in these spaces and we need to ensure a 'bottom-up' approach.
National Action Plans:
Personal stories of LGBTQ people (from the community, from women peacebuilder’s own families” can resist the idea t LGBTQI+ rights as a western concept.
When drafting NAPs it is important for states as well as civil society actors to revisit who is inviting people to the consultations and how are they invited to be sure to discuss gender in a broad way.
We do not need a new resolution on LGBTQ+, we need better inclusion in the WPS and YPS agendas. Language in the agendas as well as in NAPs is too vague. Gender does not mean women. There are ways to include LGBTQ issues within other work by women’s peacebuilding efforts and direct services like reproductive health.
NAPs are often used as a tool of foreign policy and many countries are not looking internally and are often disconnected from issues happening in their own regions.
Notes from the conversations cafe were gathered by notetakers working with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Key points compiled by Alexandria Kazmerik Bohémier.
Photographs by Leandro Justen (@leandrojusten).