More than 600 LGBTQI activists and leaders from more than 100 countries gathered in Los Angeles this week, the first gathering of its kind since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The opportunity to highlight the difficulties experienced by young queers, but also to warn of the resurgence of acts of hatred against their community.

The LGBTQ community has always suffered "a very high level of violence and discrimination", notes Julia Ehrt, director of the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People (ILGA World), organizer of the conference.

But in recent years, there has been a marked resurgence of gender-theoretic discourse that seeks to deny LGBTQ people “the human rights they deserve,” she says.

A breath of fresh air in a daily life of violence and oppression

"This conference for the first time gives us a space where we can really have these conversations," including about "harmful practices like 'conversion therapy' that are immoral, pseudo-scientific, and brutal yet legal in nearly 180 country," says Martin Karadzhov, who chairs the ILGA World Youth Committee.

The return of this conference after two years of pandemic is a breath of fresh air for the participants.

"Many LGBTQI activists work in extreme conditions of oppression, isolation and violence," said Jessica Stern, the US State Department's special envoy for the defense of the rights of the LGBTQI community.

For Brian Wenke, of the Los Angeles-based educational project It Gets Better, the conference is timely for queer youth in the United States.

Choose from 40 genders and identities

"This year alone, more than 300 LGBTQ-related bills have been introduced in 36 states," ranging from restrictions on athletic competitions to 'don't say gay' laws that prohibit talking in schools. issues of sexual orientation, says this activist.

For him, all these laws have the sole purpose of depriving queer youth of “the experience they need to grow and thrive” as adults.

The conference offered on its registration page a choice of about 40 different genders and identities, many from traditional cultures in different countries.

For Martin Karadzhov, this is an opportunity to "debunk the myth that various genders and trans identities did not exist before, that this is something new".

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