Human Rights Conference Rises Above World OutGames Hurdle

Tony Lima, Executive Director of SAVE LGBTQ, and Robin Schwartz, Chairman of the LGBT Advisory Committee for Miami Beach, took part in volunteer efforts to keep the Human Rights Conference a oat despite emerging issues at the at the World OutGames Miami. May 26, 2017. Photo Credit: Carina Mask.

The World OutGames is a combination of human rights, cultural and sporting events that seeks to unite and celebrate LGBT communities from around the globe. 

The human rights portion of the games was supposed to be a three-day event filled with LGBT rights leaders from all over the globe gathering to share their stories and encourage audiences to push the envelope and continue the fight for human rights. 

Their voices were diluted, however, when the World OutGames issued an email announcing that many of the ceremonies and sporting events would be cancelled. 

On the second and third days of the conference, attendance dropped off dramatically following the cancellations. Panelists struggled with a threadbare audio/video staff — one single volunteer handled the setup for each and every presentation, leading some panelists to shirk the powerpoint altogether and opt instead for a more informal discussion. 

With all the complications, however, all of the panelists continued to present — albeit to a smaller audience — in order to keep the conference running despite the drama surrounding the cancellations. 

The conference featured speakers with vastly different backgrounds: a transgender politician from totalitarian Venezuela, a human rights activist who fought for marriage equality in the predominantly Catholic country of Ireland and many others. 

Though attendance did go down the second and third days of the conference, it provided the unique opportunity for more intimate discussions with all of the panelists. A conference room with a max occupancy in the hundreds was populated with a circle of 10 who were all able to actively participate in a discussion with the presenter. 

With the last minute cancellations and the attempts of local organizations and the city of Miami Beach to make-up sporting events (or at the very least give the inconvenienced athletes some free drinks) the World OutGames Miami may never be seen as a success. But something deserves to be said of the perseverance of the Human Rights portion of the event. 

Tony Lima, executive Director of SAVE, said in the first few moments of the conference that Miami Beach “has always served as a beacon” for LGBT Rights. And though the failure of the World OutGames has left a mark, the city and local community has responded in a way that rings true to Lima’s statement. 

Amidst the shortcomings, the city and the community were able to pick up some of the pieces, showing international athletes true hospitality with last-minute sporting events, drink specials and free admittance to some local spas. And however intimate, the Human Rights Conference was able to continue the conversation of LGBT rights locally and internationally. 


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