What is the European Forum?
The European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups is an ecumenical association of LGBT Christian groups in Europe.
The European Forum aims to achieve equality and inclusion for LGBT people within and through Christian churches, other religious bodies and multilateral organisations.
The European Forum works for freedom of religion, for human rights and dignity for LGBT people and for an affirmative discourse on human sexuality.
2010 ILGA Europe, The Hague, The Netherlands
Annual conference 'Expressing our differences, challenging our prejudices, developing our alliances', The Hague, The Netherlands on 27-30 October 2010. The Forum's co-president Enric Vilà was present and wrote a report.
From 27th-30th October 2010 the 14th ILGA Europe’s Annual Conference has taken place in The Hague (NL) under the motto: Expressing our differences, challenging our prejudices, developing our alliances. More than 261 participants, 200 delegates from 37 countries around Europe were represented in Den Haag: The symbol city of justice and peace worldwide and fight for Human Rights. The Dutch government invited all participants in the opening session in the Ridderzaal at Binnenhof, the complex of Houses of Parliament. This big room is the core of the democratic parliament system in The Netherlands as since 1904 it has hosted the annual State Opening of Dutch Parliament. It is the symbol of a country which gives light on human rights throughout the world. European Forum was represented by co-president Enric Vilà together with the presence of Sharon Ferguson from Lesbian Gay Christian Movement (LGCM, UK), Yves Quentin (David et Jonathan) and Ineke Lautenbach (Esuberanza – publisher of Let Our Voices Be Heard!).
ILGA EUROPE: activities and achievements
ILGA Europe is an umbrella organization bringing together 277 organisations from 40 out of 48 European countries. Has its office in Brussels and employs 13 people. ILGA Europe presented its Annual Report for 2009-2010 is working on five strategic objectives: working towards full recognition of and respect for fundamental human rights, working towards full equality in employment, working towards full social inclusion, working towards full recognition and equality of the diversity of families and family relations, strengthened capacity of member organisations and strengthened capacity of ILGA Europe to achieve its mission. Enric Vilà contacted and had dialogued with Evelyne Paradis the ILGA Europe Executive Director in order to put religion on the ILGA agenda and the best way to work diversity inside the movement in order to participate in the Strategic Plan (2011-2013) which will include religion issues. ILGA Europe celebrated the goals achieved in equal marriage law in Portugal and Iceland; adoption of civil partnership laws in Ireland and Iceland and Montenegro introduced non-discrimination law, including sexual orientation in the past year. But still a long journey has to be done. ILGA Europe is also greening its agenda with initiatives to be implemented for bettering the environment.
Workshops connected with religion issues
Faith & Sexuality workshop
Shanon Ferguson from Lesbian Gay Christian Movement (UK) chaired the workshop on Faith and sexuality at the self-organised space at Forum. Ineke Lautenbach was also there promoting the book Let Our Voices Be Heard! and the Dutch version Hoor onze stem! Yves Quentin from David et Jonathan attended the workshop, too. Sharon developed faith (a believe in a higher power) together with sexuality (same-sex sexual attraction) in three perspectives. The first was theology, referring among others to the positives New Testament passages of the centurion and John the beloved disciple. The other two axes were identity and reality. Participants made questions and comments during all session. Marco Derks from LKP/COC had prepared a workshop on LGBT at Christian schools but it was postponed and was present there.
ILGA Europe is a learning organization. Action plan is to implement and monitor. Consultancy NGO sector also deals with identity issue. Action plan to implement board February 2011. Minorities, diversity exclusion, discrimination, diversity on grounds of religion or believes, sexual orientation, gender, economical issues. The example taken was conference fees available to all.
The islam workshop by Ludovic Zahed who presented the Islam association in France HM2F. Islam means leaving in peace and showed all experiences in France. He announced that there will be an Interfaith Encounter in Jerusalem in November 2011. Fighting for LGBT rights creates bad feeling for muslin community. One has to take it into account. Plenty participants attended workshop.
Other important workshops
Presentation of new situation. EP has huge impact on European citizens. Transnational interests are mixed together with political party’s interests. Picture of strategic lines were presented of the EU parliament, the Intergroup LGBT, Priorities of EU parliament are very closed to ILGA either on specific strategy in what EU is doing either in a mainstreaming is what factually is doing.
The Yogyakarta principles
The Yogyakarta principles that appeared in 2006 are a living document. There has been a publication in 2010, called An Activist’s Guide to The Yogyakarta Principles in action which shows how they are being used, and provides tool examples. This is a living document (2006-2010) and is spread in publication, posters, exhibit around the world, publications, articles, films. It is used by Amnesty International as guidelines.
Workplace rights about identity employee, identity of companies and culture dominant explicit or implicit in favour of LGBT rights. Diversity management is a goal in every company. They emphasized Equal opportunities, corporate social responsibilities and increasing competitiveness to attract best talents, also including LGBT people. David Pollard presented a company pride platform.
Fundamental Rights Platform is aiming structured dialogue with civil society. In 2008 the FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) launched the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) - a network for cooperation and information exchange, set to act as the main channel for the FRA to engage civil society and to ensure a close cooperation between the Agency and relevant stakeholders. The Platform is open to all interested and qualified stakeholders based in one of the EU member states. Besides project related activities, the participants of the FRP meet once a year in the Fundamental Rights Platform Meeting, which allows the FRA to listen to concerns and suggestions coming from the civil society. Find out more about the Fundamental Rights Platform Meetings. In accordance with the Terms of Reference of the Advisory Panel of the FRP (ToR), the Advisory Panel supports the work of the Director of the FRA in organising and coordinating the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) and advices in preparing associated meetings and events. The second Advisory Panel was elected 16th April 2010 by all the FRP members present in the 3rd Fundamental Rights Platform meeting.
Next ILGA World conference
Next ILGA World Conference is to take place in Sao Paulo (4th-9th December 2010) organised by ILGA in association with Coletivo de Feministas Lesbicas, grupo Dignidade, Grupo Arco-Iris and Instituto Edson Neris under the motto Building the way forward in times of crisis. A presentation of the event was made. European Forum will not attend due to lack of money resources.
Conclusion and decisions for European Forum
- The Hague is a symbol city of justice and peace, including LGBT rights
- ILGA Europe hosted an unforgettable conference with an opening “state status” dinner as symbol of European LGBT’s dignity citizenship
- Some of the participants warned about today’s temptation of conformity and dogmatism
- LGBT movement has to be very careful in the allies they choose, specially with political parties
- Scholarships are not available for European Forum to attend ILGA World Conference due to lack of resources and priorities to eastern countries NGOs based in Europe (let aside other continents priorities)
- Next 15th Annual Conference will be held in Torino end October 2011 (Italy) and the 16th in Dublin (2012)
- ILGA Europe and ILGA World Board was renewed but the candidateship of Rev. Sharon did not success neither board ILGA Europe nor ILGA World
- Fundamental Rights Platform: possibility of European Forum joining this platform.
Among others, some useful documents were delivered during the conference. You can find some of them online:
An Activist’s Guide to The Yogyakarta Principles, London: Nicholson & Bass Ltd., 2010.
CARROLL, Aengus, Make it work: Six steps to effective LGBT human rights advocacy, Brussels: ILGA EUROPE, October 2010
Annual report of 2009-2010, Brussels: ILGA EUROPE, 2010
Derechos humanos e identidad de género. Informe temático de Thomas Hammarberg, Berlin: TransInterQueer e.V. (TrIQ) &Transgender Europe (TGEU), 2010