European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Study visit: Pride events in today’s Europe

On 7-8 December, ILGA-Europe were pleased to host a study visit on Freedom of Assembly and Pride Marches, a staple of the LGBTI movement since the 1960s that in recent years has faced new challenges and limitations.

With the backdrop of changing political contexts across the continent, with evidence of growing backlash to the LGBTI movement in some parts of the continent, increasing counter-terrorism measures impacting freedoms in others, and an overall phenomenon of shrinking space for civil society, the fundamental right of freedom of assembly is facing challenges even in countries with a long history of Pride marches.

With this in mind Pride organisers from France, Italy, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Kosovo and Ukraine came together for two days of peer exchange, to identify common questions and needs, to connect and learn from each other. Activists also met with permanent representatives of EU Members states and the European Commission to explore how relevant EU institutions, bodies and member states individually can proactively support and uphold Pride events in the future.

Furthermore, activists took part in the event “Pride Marches in Today’s Europe. Freedom of Assembly Under Pressure” at the European Parliament, hosted by MEP Seb Dance (United Kingdom). The event revisited the importance of the freedom of assembly for the movement, drew attention to the particular challenges faced in each represented country, and solicited support from MEPs in not only their direct support for Pride marches, but also for engaging other EU institutions and bodies. We were pleased with the high level of interest and engagement in the discussion at the event!

As a result of the study visit several follow up actions were agreed, including a collaborative effort on ensuring presence of activists, supporters and politicians at Pride events facing particularly strong challenges, clarification of the role of various EU bodies in supporting Pride events, and ensuring increased EU visibility at Pride events within and outside the EU.