On 19th – 22st October, 2016 representatives of the National LGBT* rights organization LGL will participate in the in the 20th Annual Conference of the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) association ILGA-Europe, organized in the captical of Cyprus – Nicosia.
This year, the theme of the Annual Conference is “Power to the People – Celebrating 20 years of the strength within”.
During the conference, the representatives of LGL will participate in a workshop “Building your donor base – Fundraising” and present the successful “Baltic Pride” 2016 crowdfunding campaign. LGL‘s delegates will also participate in a workshop “Stepping up the fight against hate crime: promising projects by ILGA – Europe members and potential cooperation with the Council of Europe and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency” where they will present LGL‘s projects, aiming to develop an effective response to LGBT* hate crimes. LGL‘s representatives will also attend an official reception at the Presidential Palace, hosted by the president of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
Bringing the conference to the beautiful island of Cyprus offers a wonderful opportunity to look at some of the advances made in the south-east corner of Europe. The island’s first legal partnership for same-sex couples was celebrated this year. In 2014, homosexuality was decriminalised in the north of Cyprus. The conference will be used to push for legal gender recognition in Cyprus. The conference will also highlight the importance of tackling homo-, bi- and transphobia in schools and address the importance to fully recognise the rights of rainbow families, including joint adoption.
In a growing number of places in Europe, the LGBTI movement has managed to work itself out of isolation into the centre of political and societal debates. In the last year alone, long-running battles were won, such as the introduction of a landmark gender identity law in Malta, partnership laws in Cyprus and Greece, marriage equality and legal gender recognition laws in Ireland and discrimination protection policy in Ukraine. LGBTI movement itself continues to strengthen and grow.
However, we cannot be selective in the developments we acknowledge. We have to recognise that change is not always positive or pro-equality. In several countries, referenda have been used to challenge LGBTI rights and introduce discriminatory measures. We are facing campaigns that foster prejudice and try to mobilise against equal rights for LGBTI and women, as well as to fight sexual and reproductive rights. Notions of solidarity, respect for human rights, rule of law, basic democratic principles – all values that the European project was based on – seem under threat.
Its is the power of people that will be celebrated during the 20th ILGA-Europe’s Annual Conference. The positive changes that occurred over the past two decades of ILGA-Europe’s existence did not have an air of inevitability about them. In many places where the LGBTI movement has gained a strong position and was successful in pushing for positive change, several unique elements had aligned. People recognised that the human rights- and equality-based values that they held dear were shared by others. Individuals that come together to uphold values that are important to them hold people power. It is often when activists pool their resources and begin to collectively organise as a community that changes becomes within reach. Individuals that come together to uphold values that are important to them hold people power. By harnessing their voices, the LGBTI movement has demonstrated the potential of people power and true mobilisation.