The framework of "LGBT rights" can be critiqued as challenging tradition or as culturally specific, yet at the same time, it can be essential to one's sense of identity and justice. Where can the discourse of "public health" help overcome barriers for LGBT people, both within the right to health and beyond? What are the limits to using public health to talk about human rights, LGBT or otherwise? What are the dangers of conflating these distinct areas of concern? We will explore these questions and focus on how academics and activists can most effectively navigate challenges to benefit both public health and LGBT rights.
Jessica Stern is the Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. As the first researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights at Human Rights Watch, she conducted fact-finding investigations and advocacy around sexual orientation and gender identity in countries including Iran, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. As a Ralph Bunche Fellow at Amnesty International, she documented police brutality for what became its landmark report on police brutality in LGBT communities in the U.S., “Stonewalled.” She was a founding collective member and co-coordinator of Bluestockings, then New York’s only women’s bookstore. She has campaigned extensively for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and economic justice with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Control Ciudadano, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and the Urban Justice Center. She holds a masters degree in human rights from the London School of Economics. She is frequently quoted in the Mail & Guardian, Al Jazeera English, the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, The Guardian and The BBC.