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The GIN Speakers Bureau

The GIN Speakers Bureau is part of GIN’s international advocacy programme which is focused on amplifying local, under-represented – mostly from the Global South – faith-based LGBTI narratives in international fora. It pairs our Speakers with staff support and funding to connect them to high-level speaking opportunities. In high level political contexts, SOGIE diversity and rights for people of diverse SOGIE have often been depicted as a Western imposition in Global South countries, on the grounds that traditional Global South contexts are faith- and tradition-based. The introduction into these spaces of the voices of SOGIE diverse people of faith from the Global South will undercut the assumption that SOGIE diversity is a Western imposition, as well as undercutting the assumption that SOGIE diverse people are in opposition to faith. The presence of LGBTIQ++ people of faith in these HR forums will therefore undercut the dominance of conservative voices in the faith space, and create space for secular HR activists to find common ground with progressive faith actors.
The process piloted in Johannesburg in August 2018, with speakers from 7 Sub-Saharan African countries. In 2019, we sent Speakers to the Human Rights Council’s 40th, 41st and 42nd sessions, in Geneva, and to the Commission on the Status of Women (March), in New York. Visit our News page for regular information and pictures!

Below is a list of all of our Speakers and their respective interventions:

Ymania Brown

Ymania Brown

Speaker on the panel of the event “Ethics of Reciprocity Event“, October 2017, New York

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Reclaiming Faith and Family by the LGBTIQ Community“, March 2018, CSW62, New York

Moderator on the panel of the side event “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTI People Around the World“, July 2019, HRC41, Geneva

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Recognition and Respect for Family Diversity“, July 2020, HRC44, Geneva (online).

Tuisina is a survivor of institutionalised discrimination, spousal gender based violence, racial profiling, and trans violence, discrimination and persecution. She lives her truth as a proud faafafine and trans woman of colour from Samoa, a human rights defender and a former corporate In-house Counsel. She practices in trade marks and intellectual property law, and holds a Masters of Intellectual Property Law and a Masters of Law (Inhouse Practice). Born, raised and educated in Samoa, she currently works and lives in Brisbane Australia as a single parent with two adopted sons. She has over 15 years of volunteer experience in international NGOs where she leverages her specific skillset from the private sector and corporate Australia to help NGO’s she is involved with. Not only is she a fierce advocate for LGBTIQ communities with a focus on the intersectionality of indigenous, trans, interfaith, environment, and economic justice issues, she navigates her Catholic core in her absolute belief in the Gospel of Matthew: 7 where “by their fruits you will recognise” – seeding and planting fruits of safety, refuge and salvation, by sharing her truth, her journey. She is a former Co-Chair of GIN-SSOGIE helping it to flesh out the need as an LGBTIQ affirming space for different theologies for our rainbow communities across the globe, believing this to be especially ever more so important in the current times when our LGBTIQ communities all over the world face increasing and continued State sponsored criminalisation, violence, discrimination, and oppression justified by religious rhetoric and persecution and cultural and customary laws.

Yvette Abrahams

Yvette Abrahams

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Reclaiming Faith and Family by the LGBTIQ Community”, March 2018, CSW62, New York

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Pre-Colonial Societies on gender and Sexuality“, September 2019, HRC42, Geneva

Yvette Abrahams holds a Ph. D. in Economic History from the University of Cape Town. She has consulted for government and various NGO’s on issues relating to gender equality in policy and practice, while publishing widely both locally and internationally on gender equality, queer theory, climate change as well as the history of First Nations South Africans. She served as Commissioner For Gender Equality where she headed their programmes on poverty, energy and climate change. She subsequently worked as Advisor to Project 90 by 2030, an NGO which focuses on food security, energy, and promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency entrepreneurship in the context of climate change, She served as Commissioner on the University of Cape Town’s Institutional Reconciliation and Truth Commission. Today she runs a small business making organic carbon neutral soaps and body products on her smallholding east of Cape Town. Her blog is www.khoelife.com, and she can be contacted at khibomsis@gmail.com

Manisha Dhakal

Manisha Dhakal

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Pre-Colonial Societies on gender and Sexuality“, September 2019, HRC42, Geneva

Executive Director, Blue Diamond Society (BDS)
President of the Board, Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal (FSGMN)
Former Co Chair of ILGA Asia
Founder Member of the Board, Asia-Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)

Manisha Dhakal is transgender womsn (male to female). She is LGBTI rights activist from Nepal. She has been involved in Nepal’s LGBTI rights movement since 2001 through different projects on HIV/AIDS, human rights activism, constitutional campaigns, advocacy, capacity building, academic research, and others. Manisha is currently the Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s leading LGBT rights organization. Regionally, Manisha is one of the founder member of the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network representing South Asia. She is one of the former Co-Chair of ILGA Asia Board. She is also board member of IRGT; A Global Network for Trans women and HIV. She was awarded the “Nai Ram Laxmi” National award in 2010 for her contributions to the LGBTmovement in Nepal. On 21 December 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued a landmark verdict directing the government to enact laws enabling equal rights to LGBT citizens. Manisha was involved in court pleadings on this case on behalf of LGBT people before the SupremeCourt. Manisha possesses a master’s degree in finance from Shanker Dev Collage, Kathmandu.

Imam Dr Ludovic Mohamed Zahed PhD

Imam Dr Ludovic Mohamed Zahed PhD

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Pre-Colonial Societies on gender and Sexuality“, September 2019, HRC42, Geneva

A French Muslim born in Algeria in 1977, Imam Ludovic is known as Europe’s ‘gay imam’. An acknowledged intellectual, he is an expert on the Quran and an AIDS activist. As a young child he was delicate, slender and shy. His father called him a pansy and eventually stopped even looking at him. At school in France teachers would ask if he was a boy or a girl. When he was 12 years old he turned to a mosque for answers and became a staunch Muslim. He later entered a Salafist brotherhood and studied in Mecca to become an imam.

Bochra Bel Haj Hmida

Bochra Bel Haj Hmida

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTI People Around the World“, July 2019, HRC41, Geneva

Bochra Bel Haj Hmida is a Lawyer at the Court of Cassation, co-founder of multiple associations and networks, activist for human rights and women’s rights, former President of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, former member of the Assembly of People’s Representatives, chairwoman of the Committee on Individual Liberties and Equality, Member of several regional and international networks including Chair of the Committee on Violence against Women G7.

Fr Thomas Ninan

Fr Thomas Ninan

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTI People Around the World“, July 2019, HRC41, Geneva

Fr Thomas Ninan is a Priest of the Indian Orthodox Church, working with the National Council of Churches in India, Nagpur as the General Coordinator of the ESHA Project which engages churches, theological colleges and other faith communities across India in the area of Human Sexuality and Gender Identities. As Coordinator of the National Ecumenical Forum for Gender and Sexual Diversities of the NCCI, he engages a passionate group of champions, striving for a gender neutral, inclusive society in India. He is a member of the World Council of Churches Reference Group on Human Sexuality and the Global Interfaith Network.

Ankit Bhuptani

Ankit Bhuptani

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTI People Around the World“, July 2019, HRC41, Geneva

Ankit Bhuptani is an LGBTQI Rights activist, seasoned Public Speaker and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professional with 10+ years of experience in the diversity and inclusion space, Recognized for working well with people from different backgrounds with a primary focus on LGBTQIA+ community. He was awarded ‘Global Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award’ by the World HRD Congress. Ankit has been a member of core committee organisation Mumbai LGBT Pride since 2011. He is passionately working for inclusion in education, workplace & faith through the LGBTQI lens. He founded ‘Queer Hindu Alliance’ which connects to dots between Hinduism & LGBTQIA+ Community from an Indic lens 

Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla

Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla

Speaker on the panel organised by the UN Task Force on Religion – led by Office for Prevention of Genocide with UN Women; UNAIDS and UNFPA; ACT Alliance – “Preventing gender based violence: the role of religious actors”, March 2019, CSW63, New York

Rev Nokuthula Dhladhla is an ambassador of Global Interfaith Network (GIN), works for South African Network of Religious leaders living with or aftected by Hiv and Aids ( SANERELA+),as a project officer for the UN women trust project. She is a member of the Circle of Concerned African Theologians Women, and a committee member of Association of Christian Religion Practitioners and a founding member of the association called Ashes to Purpose: a healing space for lesbians and gender non conforming people to integrate sexuality and spirituality. The life and experiences of Rev Nokuthula have been documented in several book chapters, and documentaries, including Miriam Dancing by Elise van Wyk, to have and to hold by Melanie Judge, Faces and Phases by Zanele Moholi and different magazines DVD and also at an exhibition “Journeys of Faith – Navigating Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity” held at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. She has a Diploma in Theology and creates Gender Justice theological resources. Nokuthula has participated in a wide range of religious dialogues, especially with faith leaders working towards greater understanding and tolerance for LGBTIQ people in the faith sector. In 2019 alone, she has spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Yulia Dwi Andriyanti

Yulia Dwi Andriyanti

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTI People Around the World“, July 2019, HRC41, Geneva

Yulia Dwi Andriyanti (She/her), is based in Indonesia. She is a queer Muslim feminist. She co-founded Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS) in 2010, an inclusive space for young people from diverse faith and sexual identities to build dialogue on diverse faith and sexuality. She documented her struggle as Muslim and queer woman through a collective film making, titled Children of Srikandi (2012). She is also a co-founder of Qbukatabu (2017), a feminist and queer collective. She loves to archive feminist-queer activism and thoughts; to practice self-care and collective well-being; and to experiencing a vegan life.

Ishmael Bahati

Ishmael Bahati

Prepared an official statement for the Interactive Dialogue of the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, March 2019, HRC40, Geneva.

Prepared a statement during the 44th HRC session, on the worsening human rights situation in the world due to Covid-19 (June/July 2020).

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Speaker during Outright International’s webinar “Connecting Faith and Advocacy” May 2020, Virtual

Ishmael Bahati is a Kenyan citizen. He is a social activist and a Human Rights Defender for the Sexual and Gender Minorities. He is a holder of a degree in Developmental studies, Religious studies among others. Ishmael is a trained public speaker under the speaker’s bureau of the Global Interfaith Network and also holds different positions locally and internationally, such as a board member of the Gay and Lesbians Coalition of Kenya and Global interfaith network.

His Human Rights work has been recognized by the Inner Circle (Currently Al-Fitrah Foundation) in South Africa and the Defenders Coalition of Kenya (Formerly National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders).

Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes

Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTI People Around the World“, July 2019, HRC41, Geneva

Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, C.M., is the Founder and Executive Director of Rainbow Faith and Freedom, and Senior Pastor Emeritus of Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, where he was at the forefront of ministry to the LGBTIQ2S community for over 40 years. On January 14, 2001, he officiated at the first legal same sex marriages in the world. He received the Order of Canada, the Order of New Brunswick and three honorary degrees for his stand on social justice and human rights within the LGBTIQ2S communities.

Lini Zurla

Lini Zurla

Speaker on the panel “Gendering the debate on religious ‘hate speech’: What are gender-responsive strategies to tackle hatred on the basis of religion or belief? (organised by by Article 19), March 2019, CSW63, New York

Lini Zurlia is an Indonesian queer feminist activist. She has been involved with issues of women and sexuality, democracy, and human rights in Indonesia for many years. Graduated from Jakarta Islamic University. She was an advocacy co-ordinator for Arus Pelangi (Indonesian LGBTI Federation) and now she is serving us as an advocacy officer. Aside from her daily responsibility work with us, she is also a member of Arus Pelangi Board of Advisory until 2022, member of PurpleCode Collective and the co-founder and festival director of 16Film Festival.’

Dr Nontando Hadebe

Speaker on the panel of the side event “Recognition and Respect for Family Diversity“, July 2020, HRC44, Geneva (online). Dr Nontando Hadebe is a woman theologian, Research Fellow at the Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, and chair of the South African Chapter of the Circle of Concerned African Women theologians in South Africa. She is typical African with multiple ethnic backgrounds across countries – Botswana, Ndebele Zimbabwe and ancestors South Africa.

Rev. Kakay Pamaran

Statements made during the Human Rights Council session: during the 45th HRC session, in the interactive dialogue with the indigenous special rapporteur (September 2020), and during the 44th HRC session, on the human rights situation in the Philippines (June/July 2020).

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Rev Kakay Pamaran is a pastor, ecumenist, peace activist, gender justice advocate, and Bible teacher. She currently serves as Coordinator of Union Theological Seminary’s Field Education Office in Dasmarinas in the Philippines. She is also adjunct professor in Scripture and Interpretation. She has a degree in Psychology from Silliman University and a Master of Divinity from UTS. She is completing her course work for her Master of Theology in New Testament and Historical Jesus Research, and convenes the Center for Gender and Sexuality of the Union Theological Seminary.

Pearl Wong

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Pearl is director of Queer Theology Academy (Hong Kong) that publishes queer theologies in Chinese contexts, and promotes LGBTIQ+ rights in Hong Kong and Asia through advocacy and education. She is deputy convener of “Covenant of the Rainbow: Campaign toward a Truly Inclusive Church” in Hong Kong, that aims to stop discrimination against LGBTIQ+ in churches and religious communities. Pearl is a member of the Global LGBT+ Coalition Group, and also a regular speaker in international conferences on human sexuality, queer theologies, and Asia-Pacific Rainbow Families. Pearl was also one of the eleven global LGBTI religious leaders invited to speak at the 2017 Ethics of Reciprocity Conference at United Nations headquarters, New York, co-organised by GIN-SSOGIE. Pearl Wong holds a degree of bachelor of Divinity from the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Leli Darling

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Dr Leli Darling, Indigenous Fijian Transgender woman, a medical doctor, founder of Transgenders Fiji Network, an overseer organisation for the Human Rights of Trans/Queer/Non-binary/Gender diverse Fijians.

Noor Sultan

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Noor Sultan has been an activist for 10 years in the area of sexual orientation and gender identity in Egypt and Sudan. In 2010, her co- founded Bedayaa Organization. She worked as Networking and Communication director at Bedayaa Organization for five years before she was elected to be the Executive Director of Bedayaa Organization in 2016. In the last two years Noor contributed to the advocacy movement in Egypt by becoming the general coordinator of the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations. In December 2017, Noor awarded the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic for her great work that influenced the LGBTI movement in Egypt. Noor Sultan is also part of GIN-SSOGIE’s Board.

Misza Cherniak

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Misza Cherniak is an Orthodox Christian and LGBTI+ activist, musician and interpreter, born in Russia and living in Poland. He is a board member of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups involved in its advocacy, research and capacity-building work. In 2016, he sent an open letter on behalf of Orthodox LGBT persons to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, pleading the Church leadership to acknowledge the existence of LGBT persons within the Church and establishing a dialogue.

Dr. Fidel Mauricio Ramirez

Statements made during the Human Rights Council session:  and during the 44th HRC session, on the worsening human rights situation in the world due to Covid-19 (June/July 2020).

Fidel Mauricio Ramirez Doctor and Master in Education, Human Rights and Citizenship. BA in Philosophy, BA in Theology. Expert in gender, sexualities and religion. Roman Catholic, leader of movements for the recognition and respect of people with diverse genders and sexual orientations in their faith communities.

Nicolas Panotto

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online).

Nicolas Panotto, Argentinean based in Chile. Theologian and PhD in Social Sciences. Director and Founder of the Multidisciplinary Study Group on Religion and Public Advocacy (GEMRIP).

Tarek Zeidan

Speaker on the panel of the side event “The impact of faith on LGBTI people during the COVID-19 pandemic“, September 2020, HRC45, Geneva (online). 

Tarek is a sexual and bodily rights activist from Beirut, Lebanon advocating for the rights and protection of LGBT individuals and groups in the MENA region. He is the Executive Director of Helem, the first LGBT rights organization in the Arab world, founded in Beirut in 2001. Tarek is a specialist on teaching adaptive leadership and is working towards starting the first leadership laboratory in the MENA region focused exclusively on youth, civil society, civic engagement, and conflict transformation. He is a Ford Foundation global fellow, an ELI fellow at the Harvard Center for Public Leadership, and was a human rights fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard. Tarek has previously worked as communications manager and director of strategic planning for the MENA region at both the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace MENA offices respectively. He obtained his BA from the American University of Beirut, his MALD in international relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and his MPA in leadership and advocacy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He currently lives in Beirut with his partner and three cats, all of whom are adorable.