Sexual and gender equality: moving beyond myths and fears in policy discussions

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10am (UK), 10 December 2020

Sexual and gender equality: moving beyond myths and fears in policy discussions

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WFD is hosting a virtual event on International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2020, to launch a briefing paper which addresses the myths and arguments used during equality debates globally against LGBT+ equality. 

This event will be moderated by the paper’s author Shaun Martinez and panellists will speak to their experiences of contributing to debates in parliament on legislation or policies related to sexual and gender equality. Civil society activists will share examples from their countries where these debates in parliament has spilled over into wider societal discussions and the work they did to lobby parliament, work with parliamentarians, and address some of the counter-narratives to equality.

The briefing paper Sexual and gender equality: moving beyond myths and fears in policy discussions aimed at parliamentarians and policy-makers was developed as a resource for more informed parliamentary debates on sexual and gender equality. The paper provides an overview of terminology around LGBT+ person and their rights.  It addresses common myths and arguments used by policymakers and in parliamentary equality debates to maintain the status quo when it comes to criminalisation, access to education, employment, and healthcare as well as other barriers to full political and socio-economic inclusion of LGBT+ persons. The briefing paper de-bunks each ‘myth’ in the context of international human rights principles and obligations.

Join us for what will be an engaging panel discussion as we share experiences and stories, challenges and successes in the effort to achieve global equality.

Register now!

Opening: Sophia Fernandes, Senior Adviser Political Inclusion, WFD

Moderator: Shaun Martinez, author of the briefing paper


  • Elizabeth Barker, Baroness Barker, House of Lords and Vice-Chair, APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights, (UK)
  • Sally Goldner AM, Media Representative, Transgender Victoria and Treasurer, Bisexual Alliance Victoria (Australia)
  • Andres Ignacio Rivera Duarte, Human Rights and Gender Identity Consultant, Researcher and Teacher (Chile)
  • Steve Letiske, Co-Chair South African National Aids Council (South Africa)

The event will be hosted in English with simultaneous translation from Spanish.

Read the briefing paper: Sexual and gender equality: moving beyond myths and fears in policy discussions




Shaun Martinez

Shaun Martinez has spent the last 20 years working in human rights around the globe, an experience that has taught him that dreaming of a better world is necessary. Shaun has considerable experience in a wide range of human rights issues, current issues are racism and poverty in the UK and how both intersect with the LGBTIQ+ communities.

Shaun has intervened at UN and EU policy levels and developed considerable expertise in training and capacity development of human rights activists, NHRIs, government and community-based organisations. Over 12 years ago he researched and co-authored a manual for the protection of LGBTI human rights defenders and is disappointed that the manual is still needed. Shaun maintains strong links to both local and international queer movements and is a strong believer in the principle of “nothing about us without us” that centres LGBTIQ+ people as agents of their own change. 


Liz Barker, Baroness Barker

Liz Barker was created a Life Peer in 1999. Baroness Barker joined the Liberal Party in 1979, when she also became a member of the Union of Liberal Students, which she chaired from 1982 to 1983. During the same year, she took membership of the Liberal Party National Executive. Liz became a member of the Federal Policy Committee in 1997, and was chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference Committee. She has chaired many policy working groups, including those on the Future of Social Services, Liberal Democracy, Freedom and Fairness for Women, An Age of Opportunity and The Future of the Voluntary Sector.

From 2004-2010, Liz became Spokesperson on Health for the Liberal Democrats in the Lords and remains a member of the Health and Social Care Team

Liz is a Trustee to the Andy Lawson Memorial Fund, and her other special interests include health, social services, charities and social enterprise.

Liberal Democrats were the first party to support Equal Marriage. Liz came out during the Second Reading of the Equal Marriage Bill in June 2013 and has gone on to support a wide range of LGBT charities.

Liz runs a small consultancy which provides strategic business development support to charities, social enterprises and statutory authorities. Liz has particular interest in developing best practice in governance and relationships between third sector organisations and businesses.

In 2015 Liz was appointed as the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Voluntary Sector and Social Enterprise.


Sally Goldner AM

Sally Goldner AM has been involved in Victoria’s queer communities for over twenty years.  This includes Transgender Victoria, co-facilitator and Treasurer of Transfamily, presenter of 3 CR’s “Out of the Pan” and Treasurer of Bisexual Alliance Victoria.

She is the focus of an autobiographical documentary “Sally’s Story” and a life member of 4 queer organisations.

She was awarded an Order of Australia in 2019, inducted into the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll in 2016, awarded LGBTI Victorian of the Year in 2015 and was noted in The Age’s Top 100 most creative and influential people in Melbourne in 2011.

She is an educator, speaker, MC and occasional performer (all in contrast to her original accountancy training) …with more to come!


Andres Ignacio Rivera Duarte

Andrés Rivera is an outstanding Teacher, Trainer and Human Rights Defender from Chile. In 2006, he drafted the first UPR report that compiled the violations suffered by LGBTIQ+ people at the hands of the State, making this reality visible. He then went on to produce reports for the various Committees of UN CEDAW Committee, DESC, CAT, Convention on Rights of the Child denouncing human rights violations and making visible LGBTIQ+ people’s lived realities. He continues to recommend to the Chilean State, how best to improve and promote LGBTIQ+ inclusive polices and protocols.

Andrés actively participated in the OAS in 2008, advocating at the General Assemblies, Summit of the Americas and Thematic Hearings where he advocated for rights of trans and intersex people. 

Since 2018 Andrés Rivera has the responsibility of training the administrative, logistics and surveillance personnel of the General Assemblies in each country where it is held, on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, thus creating safe and comfortable spaces increasing the respect for LGBTIQ + people’s participation.

Andres was co-editor of the Gender Identity Bill, which was adopted in Chile in 2017.


Steve Letiske

Steve Letsike is an activist, feminist, leader, mentor and vibrant human rights advocate. She is co-chair of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), the vice-chair of the Commonwealth Equality Network as well as chairperson of the SANAC National Civil Society Forum. Steve is also co-chair of the National Task Team established by the South African Department of Justice to address hate crimes and gender-based violence affecting LGBTI people. Steve is a Founding Director of Access Chapter 2, a human rights organization that focuses on LGBTI people, women in their diversity and civil society’s participation in public policy development processes. The name Access Chapter 2 is derived from South Africa’s Constitution referring to the Bill of Rights: Chapter 2.


Sophia Fernandes

Sophia is the Senior Adviser on Political Inclusion at WFD. Prior to that, she was interim Regional Director for Asia. Between 2018-2020 Sophia was responsible for leading WFD’s Commonwealth wide programme, the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy, where she led innovative inclusion programmes across the Commonwealth and in 15 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to advance political inclusion of women, youth, LGBT+ citizens and persons with disabilities. Sophia’s Technical Advisor role will expand on this work, to integrate political inclusion into programme design within WFD and is responsible for developing tools, resources and research to support technical assistance in this area.

Sophia has extensive experience working in parliamentary strengthening and electoral support programmes internationally. Sophia managed International IDEA’s Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy programme in Myanmar for three years. Prior to this, Sophia worked for the Federal Parliament of Australia for five years.
Sophia is a published researcher on election systems and processes, and on parliamentary procedure and has particular interest in inclusive politics.

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    10am (UK), 10 December 2020
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