Big turnout for Dutch UN meeting on rights of lesbians and transgenders
There was a full house on Wednesday February 29 at the Ford Foundation building in New York, where the Netherlands had organized a meeting on combating violence against lesbians and transgenders. Together with government ministers from Argentina, Norway, the United Kingdom and South Africa, Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt expounded on the approach to promoting the status of lesbians and transgenders and on eradicating violence against these vulnerable groups worldwide. NGOs and delegations from many countries were present.
Compliments for South Africa
In her remarks, the Dutch minister praised South Africa. “It shows courage that South Africa has accepted my invitation to join us in organizing this meeting. May South Africa be a shining example and serve as inspiration for other African countries. This gives me hope that the status of lesbians and transgenders will be emphasized and improved in more and more African countries”, Van Bijsterveldt said to her South African colleague. “The Netherlands has traditionally been a pioneer in the world. Noblesse oblige. We want to help other countries and NGOs make this shift, too,” said Van Bijsterveldt.
United Nations Speech
Minister Van Bijsterveldt will remain in New York until Wednesday to attend the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. On Tuesday she spoke to the United Nations. In her speech, Van Bijsterveldt expressed great concern about the sluggish progress on improving the rights and status of women and girls worldwide as a result of pressure from conservative political influences. She made an urgent appeal to the UN to meet the historic 1995 Beijing agreements to significantly improve the status of women and girls.
During her visit to New York, Van Bijsterveldt spoke with the Deputy Secretary General of the UN Michelle Bachelet and Mr. Ivan Simonovic, the highest representative of the Human Rights Commission in New York. She also spoke with representatives from Human Rights Watch, fellow government ministers and NGOs from various countries where agreements have been made for closer cooperation.
Visit to gay memorial
Despite her busy schedule, Van Bijsterveldt was able to visit the Stonewall Inn, the historical site of the 1969 riots between gays and the New York police. These riots marked the start of the American gay movement. The minister also visited the nearby Gay Liberation Memorial by artist George Segal in Christopher Park in New York’s West Village.