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The "Family and Traditional Values" seminar series

The issues of faith, family and traditional values have become highly politicized and utilized within the UN system for a number of years.

Human rights organizations, including LGBTIQ groups and faith-based actors, have been working steadily to counter such actions.

GIN-SSOGIE’s work very much aligns with these efforts, seeking to bring to the fore the realities lived by individuals and communities from different contexts around the world, particularly from the Global South, and their religious experiences and interpretations. We believe that responding to right-wing groups will require the continued provision of facts and theological research by the very targeted individuals themselves.

Continuing to work with representatives within the UN system, and bringing to the fore individuals from different regional contexts, is one strategy we have adopted to respond to right-wing messages anchored in lies about and manipulation of people’s lived realities, and seeking to dismantle the human-rights system from within.

The Family & Traditional Values regional seminar series brings together great experts (activists, scholars, theologians, religious leaders and human rights advocates) in a number of Global South contexts to develop counter narratives and strategies to right wing religious messaging which have become predominant in international political spaces. The expertise developed is regionally and contextually located, and in turn aims to educate and bolster existing formal human rights strategies and local campaigns.

The gatherings have sought to reclaim and affirm the diversity of families which also include the families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people, both those which they create and those into which they are born, and to promote and defend these families locally, regionally and internationally. Three of the gatherings have led to the publication of Joint Declarations, drafted by our participants.

The first seminar gathered 25 participants to discuss issues related to faith, family and traditional values, within a Sub-Saharan African context and to explore and develop counter-messages to those deployed by religious right-wing groups in regional and international human rights spaces, which we are seeing as increasingly dominated by conservative, static, ill-thought through, politicized messages around family, traditional values, faith and culture. It took place in Johannesburg in February 2018, and produced the Johannesburg Declaration which addresses Christianity, Islam and African Traditional spirituality, and which we are in the process of disseminating to our networks and partners. Fact sheets can be found here.

The second seminar took place in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2018, and brought together participants from 8 Asian countries (with a stronger focus on South East Asia) from a broad range of faith traditions, including Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and indigenous spiritualities. It produced the Silom Manifesto which is available here.

Some of the content from the first 2 seminars was notably introduced in our advocacy strategy, including digital advocacy. We collaborated with AWID, during the May 15th 2019 International Day of Families, to develop key messages for policy makers and social leaders.

The third seminar took place in Sao Leopoldo, Brasil in August 2019 and gathered experts from Central and South America from a range of religions and faith traditions including Christianity, Judaism, and Traditional Spiritualities. It produced the SãLeopoldo Declaration which is available here.

In 2020, the next 3 seminars took place. Due to COVID-19, we moved our gatherings online, and they took place in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and a combined Eastern Europe and Central Asia group. The final report on the seminars was launched at a UN side event in September 2021. It is available here

The report on the Family and Traditional Values seminar series was launched a side event at HRC48, In September 2021.
The Johannesburg Declaration was produced from the first Family and Traditional Values seminar, in February 2018.
Participants at the FTV in Brazil produced the Sao Leopoldo Declaration
The Silom Manifesto was produced by the seminar in Asia.