Family Diversity and Protection in a Democratic Society: Issues and Possibilities

R.I.S.E. project consortium seeks to discuss social and legal aspects of LGBTIQ+ family rights recognition in Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania and Poland as well as a wider international rainbow family context while reflecting on the negative psychological and economic effects of discrimination. 

Register for online participation HERE

Time:  September 29
10 AM – 3 PM EEST (9 AM – 2 PM CET)

Preliminary program

10.00  – 10.25 Opening remarks

Hon. Commissioner Dalli’s video greeting

HE Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania Ms. Evelina Dobrovolska 

HE Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden Ms. Inger Linnea Buxton 

HE Ambassador of the United States of America Mr. Robert S. Gilchrist 

Executive Director of the National LGBTI Rights Organization LGL Mr. Vladimir Simonko 

Moderator – Ruslanas Iržikevičius, Lithuania Tribune

Part I. Socio-legal environment and the protection of family rights 10.25 AM – 11.45AM

Project R.I.S.E. Presentation by Kaspars Zalitis (he/him), Association of LGBTI and their friends MOZAIKA, Latvia

Kaspars Zalitis is one of Latvia’s most prominent human rights defenders, with close to 20 years of experience in activism. Currently, Kaspars is the leader of the movement “Dzīvesbiedri” which is working towards the adoption of partnership regulation for all families in Latvia.  His work has ranged from community outreach and support to LGBTI people across Europe, to hate crime documentation, and organising of the biggest LGBTI events in the former Soviet Union – EuroPride 2015, Baltic Pride 2018 and Baltic Pride 2021 in Riga. Kaspars is the founder of the Latvian Diversity Charter and the initiator of the Equality Index, the first cross-sector commitment and analysis of the implementation of diversity policies within the private sector in Latvia.

Respect for human dignity, equality, respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. Words, words, words?: The Union and LGBTQ+ rights, Dr. hab. Jakub Urbanik (he/him), Chair of Roman Law and the Law of Antiquity, Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw

Dr. hab. Jakub Urbanik is a Law historian specialising in legal awareness in Antiquity and legal tradition of marriage and family in the past and modern era, professor at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw, Head of the Chair Roman law and the law of Antiquity. A legal activist, part-taker of a number of strategic litigations focusing on LGBT+ rights. Chair of the Board of the Law Does not Exclude Fund, a legal clinic programme affiliated within Love Does Not Exclude Association.

Our call for change: presentation of recommendation paper on family rights of LGBTIQ persons, for the EU, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, Milena Adamczewska-Stachura(she/her), Love Does Not Exclude Association, Warsaw

Milena Adamczewska-Stachura is a lawyer, holding an LLM in international human rights law, specializing in anti-discrimination law and protection of LGBT+ rights. From 2018 to 2020, in the Department of Equal Treatment in the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, responsible for all the cases related to SOGI, including strategic litigation against the so-called “LGBT-free zones”. Nowadays she coordinates the “Law Does Not Exclude” Fund which supports LGBT+ people in need of legal aid.

Storytellling videos on rainbow families

Q and A featuring R.I.S.E. consortium representatives

Coffee break (light refreshments) 11.45 AM– 12.30 PM  

Part II. Protection of family rights and the international context: common gaps and achievements. 12.30 – 13.30 PM

 Anti-Gender Campaigns, Prof. David Paternotte (he/him), Université Libre de Bruxelles

David Paternotte teaches Sociology and European Studies and co-directs the Gender and Sexuality Workshop and the Sextant Seminar at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He has published Claiming “Gay Marriage”: Belgium, France, Spain (2011) and co-directed, among others, the Ashgate Research Companion to Lesbian and Gay Activism (2015), LGBT Activism and the Making of Europe (2014). He is co-director of the journal Sextant (Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles) and of the Global Queer Politics collection (Palgrave). He is also co-responsible for the Master in Gender Studies involving all French-speaking universities in Belgium.

Heterosexual attitudes toward LG couples and parents across seven European countries
Dr. Salvatore D’Amore (he/him), Université Libre de Bruxelles (remote)

Salvatore D’Amore, PhD, is a psychologist, psychotherapist, assistant professor based at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He also works as a trainer and supervisor in systemic approach to family and couple diversity in several universities and psychotherapy training centres both on a national and European level. His clinical work is currently orientated towards treating, counselling and supporting single-parents, gay and lesbian couples, stepfamilies and same-sex families.

Marriage for All Campaign: Recent Same-Sex Family Rights Recognition Developments in Switzerland, Maria von Känel (she/her), Swiss Rainbow Families Association, International Family Equality Day and Co-President Campaign “Marriage for all!”, Zurich, Switzerland

Maria von Känel is a co-founder and General Manager of the Swiss Rainbow Families Association since 2010 and co-president of the campaign «Marriage for all». Out of her activism for LGBTI families she had the idea to create a special day to celebrate rainbow families all over the world. The International Family Equality Day (IFED) is an official LGBTI awareness day which takes place every first Sunday in May since 2012. The Council of Europe recognises IFED as an important tool to combat homo- and transphobia and to promote a tolerant and cohesive society.

A plaintiff’s perspective: European Court of Justice’s recognition of same-sex spouses, Adrian Coman (he/him)

Adrian Coman has worked for over 20 years in human rights advocacy, philanthropy, education, and politics. Since 2013, he coordinates the International Human Rights Program at the Arcus Foundation in New York. Adrian was a litigant in Case C‑673/16, Coman, Hamilton, and ACCEPT v. Romania, in which the Court of Justice of the European Union decided that the term “spouse” in EU free movement law includes same-sex spouses. The Constitutional Court of Romania subsequently recognized the right to private and family life of same-sex couples

Part III. Mainstreaming family diversity and equal opportunities into action.
Interactive panel featuring LGBTI+ friendly business, Q&A session.    1:30 PM – 2.15 PM


Mariano Andrade Gonzalez (he/him), Lithuania Country Head, Moody’s Lithuania
Amelia Sestilo (she/her), Diversity Lead, Telia Global Services Lithuania and Telia LT
Dr. Jean-Luc Vey (he/him), member of the board of PROUT AT WORK which is a leading German think tank, providing advice and shaping the debate on LGBTIQ topics in the workplace. 

The Economic Case for LGBT Equality, Dr. M.V. Lee Badgett (she/her), Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst (remote)

M. V. Lee Badgett is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and former director of the School of Public Policy at UMass Amherst. She is also a Williams Distinguished Scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute, where she was a co-founder and the first research director. Prof. Badgett has been a consultant, advisor, or speaker on LGBTI issues to the World Bank, Open For Business, UNDP, USAID, IDB, ADB, U.S. State Department, OECD, global businesses, and LGBTI organizations. Her research focuses on the global cost of homophobia and transphobia, economic empowerment of LGBTI people, and LGBTI economic inequality (including wage gaps, employment discrimination, and poverty). Her latest book is The Economic Case for LGBT Equality: Why Fair and Equal Treatment Benefits Us All (Beacon Press, 2020).

Q and A session

Closing intervention: Victor Madrigal-Borloz (he/him), United Nations Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (remote)

*the conference will be streamed via internet portal
Program may be subjected to changes


R.I.S.E. strives to achieve a positive change in terms of a non-discriminatory portrayal of LGBT families among general population and improve awareness on compromised quality of life of LGBT families on a decision maker level.

Project is implemented by the National LGBT rights organization LGL (Lithuania), LGBT and their Friends Association Mozaika (Latvia); Love Does Not Exclude Association MNW (Poland), LGBTI Organization BILITIS (Bulgaria), Association ACCEPT (Romania), Iniciatíva Inakost (Slovakia).

Prepared as a part of the project “Raising awareness for Inclusive Societies to Embrace rainbow families in Europe (R.I.S.E.) which is implemented with the financial support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union.
The content of this  publication represents the views of the author only and it is their sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.