Madiba >> Ohena


Jan Beddeleem,, board member of the worldOutgames organising committee, introduced yesterday the draft of the Antwerp guidelines, the document that will be discussed during the World Outgames Human Rights conference in Antwerp.


Watch the speech of Jan Beddeleem online.

part 1

part 2

Dear friends, brothers and sisters,

Let me first thank Maitre N’kom for this impessive contribution, i i think it s right to present in the name of all participants, our scincere condoleances with the family, the friends and the lgbt movement in Cameoon,  at this moment of loss of our beloved friend and activist, Eric Ohena.

I’m very honoured to have the chance to introduce to you the draft Antwerp Guidelines,
A set of principles for the WorldOutgames Quadrennial Human Rights Conferences, itself

Before going into detail on the Charter, I would like to say thank you to the organising team for giving me this chance, I’m standing here only to introduce to you a draft of guidelines, and this moment has only be made possible by the work of a whole team,
volunteers, staff members, board members, without the efforts of all of them, I would not stand here, the draft belongs to them as the symbolic product of years of preparation.

And now that the worldOutgames are really kicked off,  soon the draft will become The Antwerp Guidelines, belonging to all of you.
Nobody will stop this conference from being a succes, nobody will stop this  worldOutgames from being a ucces, nobody will stop Equality.


Can i ask all the people from the organising committee, volunteers, or volunteering the next 12 days, the board and staff to stand up,

Please stand up, so people can start knowing faces, knowing each other and getting to know new people. It  will be a key element of the succes of this games, please stand .

Where are the people from Miami, please, Miami, stand up also, and imagine how much energy it takes to organise such an event, stand up and share for the first time this positive energy of feeling the kick off

Please brothers and sisters, give them a good portion of energy to kick off the event,  please give them a huge handclap.

Do we really need a worldOutgames event? Is it worth all that energy? Is it worth the sleepless nights we all had, is it worth the money, is it worth the mobilisation of so many volunteers and logistics, is t worth its global footprint on earth? 

We, as an organsing committee and you as a participant,  together we have to answer that question before august 12th by the legitimate mathematical proving method called: demonstration.

People, regimes,  and groups of all fether, they all can try to stop equality, with laws forbidding gay promotion and banning  sexual education, they can try to stop equality, with laws introducing death penalty and by arresting people for having same-sex relationships, by cowardly ignoring deadly mobs. They can try to do so, with money, with massive amounts of homophobic and transphobic dvd’s and lectures, some  of them try by making a blasphemic use of the phrase, in the name of God, ignorign that maby of us has a spiritual engine to continue this struggle,
but they will never succeed, and why will they never succeed?

Because, dear brothers and sister, because we are all born EQUAL, MADIBA!!


When i say Madiba, I just use the surname of our brother Nelson Mandela as an act of honour to his personality and as an expression of  confidence and  decisiveness to achieve equality.

We all have to strenghten ourselves and to give way to our emotions, we have to express our strongest solidarity with LGBT groups, individuals and their families which most particulary in Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa and arab countries face homophobic and transphobic violence and marginalization, without forgetting those victims  in other countries or regions, and those never named as such.
So when i say Madiba, please confirm strongly with the word “Ohena” and let’s see if that can give us energy.
Madiba >> Ohena
Madiba >> Ohena
Nobody will stop Equality, Madiba >> Ohena
Nobody will stop Equality, Madiba >> Ohena

Look at your right, look at your left, look around and get to know faces and future friends, look at the one with his sportsoutfit, look for the one in suit and tie, or for the excentrik or fashionable one,
cause we are an event with three pillars; sports, culture and human rights,  look for the athlete, look for the researcher, look for the trade unionist, the  artist or activsit,
But know that you will not find anybody perfect in this room, altough together we are able to turn this conference and this critical mass event to an exceptional experience of  excellence in being human and being equal, Madiba. >>Ohena

Look at your left, look at your right, did you ever clap hands just because you are surrounded by people that were born just the same as you?  Did you? Do it now please, nobody will stop us from finding the energy we need to achieve our goals, Nobody will stop Equality. Madiba >>Ohena

Can it be more simple then clapping hand because we’re equal and getting energy out of it?

It is the duty of each of us and the LGBT movement as a whole to truly support all these dedicated people to realise small-step driven change at many levels, in many regions, many small groups and organsiations, around the world.  Thank you for sharing the energy.

Dear brothers and sisters, whatever energy it takes, what ever time it takes, from safe harbour to equality, we will get there together, togehter because getting there while losing others along the way is no option. There might be a variety of strategies, and a variety of realities, but there is only one speed, there is only one G-force which can lead us to Equality, and that is the belief that no one around the globe should be singled out and ripped off his dignity because of his sexual orientation or gender identity,  nobody will stop equality, Madiba.  >> Ohena

Brothers and sisters, even if some of you have much more experience and could be my father or mother, and others my oldest son or daughter, we can only get there when we act consciously and in solidarity with each other and across nations and generations, knowing that for some people the real journey is the journey from daily life-threatening reality to a first safe harbour. The journey between flagrant violence, harsh discrimination and from being rejected to find acception in a first safe habrour is the real off road part of the journey. We cannot move if we don’t move all together, and therefore every single human right activist is a potential ally, from womans movement, over MSM and healthcare organisations, to trade unions, and development aid we all need them along that part off the road, and we need them, much fiurther. We need you much further.
It is –especially - in this stage of direct confrontation with  victims of discrimination and violence against our people,  wether it’s in the own family, on the working floor or school, or in public space,
That we can convince our allies about how much we need them to achieve  global equality.  In this stage of a vulnerable person making a journey, the protection mechanisms of the one can be safety and lifesaving for the other, and in this stage an activist on the same ground is more important then a brother on a conference, july 31st in Antwerp, for example.

Organising worldOutgames in a metropole far from this reality of daily rejection and marginalization seems  almost controversial, but not organising it might be heartless or cowardly ignoring the need of a global collaboration and a shared vision.  Do we need worldOutgames?

Yes, we need them. We need them to create learning opportunities on solidarity for those growing up in safe countries, without ever being stigmatised or discriminated for showing intrest in the topic.
We need them because sampling the World we really dream about, over a whole city  during the days of worldOutgames can lead all of us into creative initiatives, new ideas  and inspiringinnovations.
Respectable living conditions for each and every LGBT person around the world is our final and un deniable objective, and if we can reach it for thousand from around the globe in one city , why would it not strengthen our belief that we are able to achieve it for millions all over the globe, thats why we need worldoutgames, to feed hope around the world, Madiba. >> Ohena

Without the conviction and deciciveness of some of us, there would not have been a third worldOutgames edition, there would have been the first cancelled outgames and many many reasons to do so, including congratulations for taking that decision from people now standing here with us for Equality.

It is not every day we are sure about ourselves,  and questioning our movement from inside as well as  accepting ctritical voice and research from outside is essential,
to our impact, and  to our capacity to  generate change.
We have expressed our solidarity with victims, but i would like to create together with all of you an even  stronger moment using  the term Madiba in all its fragility, 
Are we able to carry  the legacy of what David Kato, Erica Ohena Dwayne from Jamaica and many many other activists and LGBT from South-africa,  Jamaica, Haïti and many other countries left us as an eternal mission,

When i use the term Madiba, with less power, and more uncertain, each of you
Will think of someone you lost along the way because of your activities, because of your activism or just because of  your nature, someone you now miss, someone you lost as a friend, as a member of family or someone who left us,
Take time to think of the names of those you lost
and then get that name,  over your lips, 
with the strengt hit takes to honour the person,
take time and proncounce it independently form others, when ready to get the name over your lips,
I will wait,
And it will create a strong moment of conciousness about our fragilty, there is no hurry to achieve equality, security first,  there is no hurry to experience our defenselessness, justice first,  the hurry is in creating this sense of unity, the sense of strength in our collective fragility, the strenght of being vulnerable for a purpose. Purpose first.  One goal, one soul.

Let’s try it all together, let us name those we lost, they diserve it.

Are we ready to live our fragility to what it takes in order to achieve equality, is dialogue really our only weapon, Madiba?  >> fragile names.

Give it a handclap to turn this moment into positive energy.

Maybe we also have to think of our sisters and transgender follows, we lost many of them anonimously.

Is fighting ancient, imported sodomylaws from abroad, in countries with new inequalities, new infectious diseases, inefficient food and healthcareprogrammes, high corruption and dysfunctional governements,  is decriminalisation more then a male-to-male priority, Madiba?

In times of social media and world wide communication, do we need NGO’s and human rights organisations to be occupied with their own global positioning from morning to evening, do we need to embrace this a global positioning society or do we need to forge new kinds of alliances with silence forces and grassroot power, Madiba?

In times that marriage and adoption and full relational rights are achieved for some of us , and engaging in same sex relation and non-conforming gender affirmation, is accepted, while emprisonnement, death penalty and morrtal mobs  is the part reserved for others, can we be proud over this new commons in one region, if we are ignoring they can turn into new tragedies for people in other regions? Are we acting conscious enough?  Madiba? 

We don’t have all the answers, thats why we need precious allies to move with us, we need to choose them carefully and we need to listen to them.

The use of social media and the benefits of equal relational rights even if very benificiary for the movement as a whole, can easily turn into tradgedy for individuals and small local groups, and thats why worldOutgames and other similar excercises at local or regional level are important to create a shared vision, to discover shared values and to create an ethical foundation for a large spectrum of strategies, actions and choices in preparing ones country, ones culture, for the change we dare to dream, Madiba. >> Ohena

To the people in the diaspora, you too, you are the number-one allies for the people facing homophobic and transphobic violence back home,
You are the number-one allies to prevent safe countries from acting ignorant about the local realities, you are the number-one allies to start up dialogue,
you are an underexploited  pool of expertise and experiences ,
many of you stand on the intersection of two countries, the intersection of two cultures and two mentalities, some of you living in exile, stand on the intersection of many different vulnerabilities,

Stand, my friends, stand for equality, stand for opinion, but above all, stand strong as a bridge,  critical to both sides and stand for dialogue, Madiba. >> Ohena

To the leaders around this world, you cannot limit a child to your own learning, as it was born in another time,  (Rabindranath Traore said)  and that’s why nobody will stop equality, times are changing, and if we are not able to anticipate trends in society affecting our LGBT people, we are not able to sustain equality,
what we do is done for this and for the next generation. Please leaders from around the globe, put cultural embedded acceptance of sexual and gender diversity on the human rights agenda around the world, please start educating every single child today.
We don’t claim for a place in heaven  when homophobic, (kneels down) we don’t claim  a clearing in the forest or for a island in the ocean, we claim a place for loving, a place for equality, we claim to be fully accepted members of the human family,  Love United, Madiba. >> Ohena

So now, The draft Antwerp Guidelines,  reflecting the content of the abstracts we received and prepared by a small committee of experts, is now in your hands, 
Lets make it a strong instrument to make and to promote the link between the drive and the energy behind this kind of initiatives and the need of world wide soldiarity.
They include a call for GLISA to sustain the global and universal character of the worldOutgames.  That exercise can only be made  if all of you fully contribute to make the best out of this conference and to really show conviction that this kind of four annual world gathering is absolutely necessary. Linking every four years the local experiences to the global level through positive challenges and identifying trends in society to enhance our pro-activity is an absolutely necessary exercise for the unity along the way From Safe Harbours To Equality.
But to make it really succesfull,  we must emphasize the importance of the full participation of a global cross-section of the worlds LGBT movement in all three pillars as an essential criteria, and therefore we urge GLISA to create a foundation to assure outreach funding over the long term. WorldOutgames are necessary and the combination of culture sports and human rights is essential to inspire the movement to find new ways of symbolic preparation of whole nations and regions for change and acceptance. Nobody will stop equality. Mabiba.

I wish you a great conference experience and I’m fully available to slow down with you to reconsider the draft as presented today, looking forward to share and celebrate the final version with you on Friday,  I wish you deliver  a set of guiding principles for the transition of the drive, the massive amount of energy behind this world event into international solidarity worldwide.


enJan Beddeleem (°1969, Roeslare, Belgium), board member of the worldOutgames organising committee, is a low profile human rights activist for the last twenty years. As a teenager, the spirituality of nothern american indians inspired him and this intrest lead him to years of engagement for the right to self determination for indigenous people, he workerd for asylumseekers and was one of the first persons to use the convention of the right of the child claim a better protection for minor asylumseekers, he’s an expert in the position of LGBT in asylumprocedures and in belgian foreign law, and a motor behind international solidarity with LGBT people living in countries where same-sex relationships are criminalised.  He’s actually working on the intersection between ethnic and  sexual minorites as a coördinator for Merhaba vzw.

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Good work, keep it up as you are not alone!

Posted by: Peter M | 08/02/2013

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