Conference reporter and former Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, Patricia Prendiville shares her thoughts from the Conference: Stronger Together as LGBTI Activists: What I learned from the ILGA-Europe Conference, Prague 2019
Theme: Stronger Together
This is the year in which we celebrate 50 years of Stonewall, a moment to acknowledge the journey and celebrate our incredible collective achievements. Around the world Stonewall is considered the start of the ‘modern LGBT(I) movement’.
We know we owe a lot of the tremendous progress we know today in so many parts of our region to activists who were working on the liberation of our communities long before Stonewall. It is thanks to them, and the several generations of activists they inspired that we achieve great changes in laws, policies and attitudes in Europe over the past decades.
Yet, we also know that our gains are fragile and that the journey for equality is not complete. This year ILGA-Europe sounded the alarm bell about real rollback. There is a real sense of urgency in taking action both to continue gaining protection and acceptance and to withstand very serious attempts to undermine our human rights. We are equally concerned about the state of democracy in the world: put simply, it is hard to disassociate the very real pressure that LGBTI communities experience in parts of the region and globally from forces of authoritarianism and populism. We also cannot separate the struggles our communities experience from ever widening economic inequalities.
Sadly, we start witnessing good policies being removed, political support disappearing, places that previously felt relatively safe becoming more unsafe. We have always known that guarantees of lasting equality are never fully achieved, but we are now seeing just how important it is to ensure that, in these uncertain political and social climates, that our incredible achievements do not regress. Year after year we are reminded of the importance of safeguarding rights yet to be recognised and of ensuring we do not see rollback on those rights we have won. And we are acting with all of our strength, defiance, determination and courage – as fiercely as ever.
All this is happening at a time when we are also assessing the imperfections within our own movement. Perhaps more than ever, we are becoming aware of the many voices from our communities which have been left behind and continue to remain too often unheard. There is no doubt that we need to do this self-examination as a movement: what does our diversity look like? Who is in our spaces and who is not? How do we make sure that our beautiful rainbow umbrella allows for each colour to shine in full equality? These questions are essential and challenging at the same time. They carry their share of hurt, pain, discomfort, anger and fear. We can let ourselves fall into the trap of letting these emotions take over our better selves, and let them be used to divide us. Or we can examine these very legitimate emotions, name and understand them, learn to better understand and see each other, and move forward together.
How do we figure out how to come together, truly, around shared goals? How do celebrate and elevate our rich diverse voices to make sure everyone is heard, while affirming our common humanity? How do we make sure none of us forget that we do have so much more in common than what divides us? Can we find unity around a common purpose? Those are some of urgent and crucial questions we have to ask ourselves, if we are to continue making real change happen to LGBTI people in all their diversities across our region and beyond.
Welcome to Prague
The conference is a platform for activists and supporters of the movement to meet and discuss their ideas. ILGA-Europe offer the platform, but we need each and every one of you to help in making the conference a success!
We welcome your ideas that can contribute to the conference’s theme!
What can you do?
- Propose workshops
- Propose consultations
- Propose research or project presentations
- Share ideas for non-formal parts of the programme
We in particularly welcome proposals and suggestions that speak to the conference theme and that are relevant for a wider variety of activists. Proposals and suggestions will be taken into account by ILGA-Europe when developing the programme. Please note that we welcome input until Friday 7 June (midnight CET). Due to the high number of input received every year, ILGA-Europe will not be able to accommodate all proposals and suggestions made. We aim to provide feedback to all proposals received by mid-July at the latest.
Please note that ILGA-Europe does not cover any costs associated to speakers, experts or otherwise. You are thus responsible for covering any costs associated with workshops, consultations, presentations or other contributions. This is also the case for conference registration costs, travel and hotel costs. The selection of scholars happens independently from the selection of programme contributions.
Please find below further information about how you can make proposals or suggestions!
Members have the opportunity to propose workshops for the programme. ILGA-Europe reserves at least ten slots for member-led workshops that will be selected by ILGA-Europe board and staff. Workshop proposals should meet all of the following criteria:
- Be presented on behalf of three or more ILGA-Europe members together, ensure a cross-regional character and ensure diversity amongst speakers
- Contain an interactive element in its methodology/facilitation that allows for peer-learning
- Explain how they are relevant for a variety of activists representing different realities
Short one-on-one consultations with conference participants will be offered by organisations and individuals with expertise in a diversity of topics related to capacity-building of the European LGBTI movement. ILGA-Europe will provide the facilities, space in the conference programme to advertise your services and facilitation of the registration process.
Propose research or project presentations
ILGA-Europe want the activists from Europe and Central Asia to get a flavour of projects, publications and research work done by other activists and academics on LGBTI issues. You will have to opportunity to share relevant project experience or other work in the field with other Annual Conference attendees. Your presentation should not exceed 10 minutes and must give a brief idea of the project/research conducted.
Share ideas for non-formal parts of the programme
Following the outstanding performances by LGBT sex workers at the 2017 Warsaw Annual Conference, ILGA-Europe is looking for ideas on how to make the conference a success and a platform for expression besides the formal programme. We welcome your creative suggestions! We will be equally creative and try to make your ideas happen but please note that we only have very limited capacity/flexibility with space, time or budget.