On June 6th, the one-day International Human Rights Conference took place in the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. It constituted a vital and prestigious part of the Baltic Pride festival 2019. The aim of the event was to invite local and international speakers to discuss the event’s topics and for participants to explore different viewpoints, become aware of historical and current LGBTI contexts locally and abroad, and to develop a vision for the future of the LGBTI community.
The theme of the 2019 Conference was “Towards a Future European Roadmap for LGBTI Equality” which was discussed in four panels exploring the theme through governmental, civil society and business lenses. The day’s theme was addressed in four panel discussions:
- Panel I: Implementation of the recommendations by the European Commission to advance LGBTI rights Challenges & Good Practices
- Panel II: SOGI and Inclusive Workplace Environment: How Businesses are Shaping Perceptions towards Diversity
- Panel III: Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable “LGBTI Rights in Times of Populism” – Liberal Ideas for a More Tolerant Europe: Quick transitions to LGBTI acceptance & how they came about. What to learn for Eastern Europe?
- Panel IV: Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable “LGBTI Rights in Times of Populism” – Liberal Ideas for a More Tolerant Europe: Eleven days after the European Parliamentary elections & with the dust settling over a new European LGBTI political landscape, where are we?
Among the prominent European speakers, the Conference welcomed: Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People & Equalities of Scotland; Helena Dalli, Minister for European Affairs & Equality of Malta; David Norris, Independent member of the Irish Senate; Marija Golubeva, Deputy Secretary of the Parliament of Latvia; Grunde Almeland, Member of the Norwegian Parliament, Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the European Parliament, the Liberals Movement of the Republic of Lithuania and Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe along with many other important representatives from across the governmental, non-governmental and business worlds.
The event featured a video greeting by Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers & Gender Equality. In attendance, as the main conference supporters, were Darius Skusevičius, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Karsten Klepsvik, Norwegian Ambassador to Lithuania, and Dovile Grigiene, Head of Swedbank in Lithuania.
James Kirchick, a leading voice on American gay politics and international gay rights author, journalist and foreign correspondent was the host of the Conference. He was accompanied by three moderators: Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe (Panel I); Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, Member of Vilnius City Council (Panel II) and Mats Nordström, President, HBT-liberaler Sweden and vice president of LGBTI-liberals of Europe (Panel III and IV).
© Augustas Didžgalvis photos