Human rights youth exchange: discovering the contrasting reality of Georgia

erasmus_logoFrom the 4th to the 12th of July, 2015 the representatives of the national LGBT* rights organization LGL participated to the international project “Open Your Mind 2” under the ERASMUS+ programme, youth exchange for young people on human rights and equal opportunities, organized in Rustavi, Georgia.

The project “Open Your Mind 2”, gave the opportunity to a group of young people from Georgia, Germany, Latvia and Lithuania to discuss how national identity, culture and religion effectively creates sense of citizenship and fosters tolerance and equality in society, and discover Georgia, uniquely located between Europe and Asia. During the youth exchange, young people took part to discussions, seminars and workshops on human rights, equality, national identity and migration issues by, at the same time, creatively presenting their native country’s culture and traditions.

On the 7th of July, 2015 the representatives of LGL participating to the project, held a workshop on LGBT* human rights, during which they presented the situation of LGBT* persons in Lithuania. The presentation focused also on the challenges and the widespread false stereotypes in society that the LGBT* community faces in different countries. During LGL’s workshop, participants to the project had the opportunity to watch a documentary film on Baltic Pride 2013, organized by LGL. The documentary, “We Can Be Gay Today“ (realized by directors F. Message and N. Sibille), shows the fight that the LGBT* activists in this country carry out for the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

During the same day of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to meet with the Georgian LGBT* rights organization Identoba, represented by the leader of the organization, who informed the audience about the specific obstacles faced by LGBT* people in Georgia, a country with such deep religious roots and traditions. The LGBT* human rights activist pointed out that his LGBT* organization did not have so far the opportunity to hold a peaceful march, since local law enforcement officers do not protect the brutal opposition, violence and resistance that the LGBT* community faces.

The project “Open Your Mind 2” aimed not only to raise youth awareness on human rights and equal opportunities issues in an informal, dynamic and interactive way, but also to present the many contrasting realities co-existing inside Georgia. The participants had an opportunity to observe closely the country’s culture, tradition, religion, ethnic identity, by visiting Rustavi city, set-up back to 1948, the enchanting capital city of Tbilisi, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Georgia Mtskheta, the 6th century Monastery and Church of Jvari, the Soviet dictator Stalin’s hometown of Gori and finally, were invited to participate to the traditional Georgian supra dinner with folk dances, endless tosts and other delights.