LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Malta 2009

In 2009 our Annual Conference took place on 29 October - 1 November in Malta. The theme of the conference is "Overcoming Religious & Cultural Barriers to LGBT Equality". A successful and the largest ever annual conference of ILGA-Europe concluded in Malta on 1 November. Over 300 people from 48 countries took part in the conference.

The largest ILGA-Europe’s annual conferences concluded in Malta

A successful and the largest ever annual conference of ILGA-Europe concluded in Malta on 1 November. Over 300 people from 48 countries took part in the conference. This is the highest number of participants at ILGA-Europe’s annual conference ever. The theme of this year’s conference was “Overcoming Cultural and Religious Barriers to LGBT Equality”. This year’s annual conference was organised in partnership with Malta Gay Rights Movement.

The topic of the conference and many other issues were debated in two panels, 28 workshops and 12 self-organised spaces. The key note speakers were:

  • Ulrike Lunacek, Member of the European Parliament
  • Francis Agius, Member of Maltese Parliament, head of Maltese Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  • Belinda Pyke, European Commission, Director of Equality between Men / Women, Action against Discrimination, Civil Society Directorate of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
  • Dr Louis Galea, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Malta
  • Evarist Bartolo, Member of Maltese Parliament, Labour Party
  • Vladimir Luxuria, former member of the Italian Parliament, journalist
  • Juris Cālītis, pastor of the Anglican Church, Latvia
  • Frits Huffnagel, Deputy Mayor, City Council of The Hague.

The annual conference has attracted extensive and positive media coverage in Malta. ILGA-Europe’s family posters translated into Maltese and highlighted the challenges LGBT families and their children face due to lack of the legal recognition were displayed in various regions of Malta and thus increased visibility of the topic in the country.

Prior to the conference, representatives of ILGA-Europe’s board and staff had a meeting with Dr George Abela, President of Malta, which was the first time ever head of state hosted ILGA-Europe’s representatives during our annual conference.

Another successful pre-conference event was a Trans Rights Conference which brought together LGBT activists with European policy makes who made a number of specific commitments to fight discrimination against trans people.

Election of the Executive Board

The annual conference has elected following individuals as members of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board:

  • Martin K.I. Christensen (Denmark) for a 2 year term
  • Louise Ashworth (UK) for a 2 year term
  • Nataša Sukič (Slovenia) for a 2 year term
  • Bjorn van Roosendaal (The Netherlands) for a 2 year term
  • Christine Le Doare (France) for a 1 year term
  • Paata Sabelashvili (Georgia) for a 2 year term

The remaining four board members for another year are:

  • Linda Freimane (Latvia)
  • Ruth Baldacchino (Malta)
  • Pierre Serne (France)
  • Deborah Lambillotte (Belgium)

Tomasz Szypuła (Poland) was elected as reserve member of Executive Board.

The annual conference has also voted to host ILGA-Europe’s Annual Conference in 2011 in Turin (Italy).

The next ILGA-Europe’s annual conference in 2010 will take place in The Hague (The Netherlands).

European institutions make commitments to fight discrimination against trans people

Today (28/10/2009) the “Trans Rights Conference: Putting Trans Rights on the European Agenda” was held by ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe as a pre-conference to ILGA-Europe’s 13th Annual Conference starting tomorrow.

This conference was intended to bring together European and national stake holders in a direct dialogue with trans and LGBT activists from across Europe. This was the first conference to exclusively driven towards good practices in policy and legal developments.

Strong commitments were made by Belinda Pyke from the European Commission, Israel Butler from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, Mandana Zarrehparvar from EQUINET and Dennis van der Veur from the Council of Europe to advance the rights of trans people through their work.

The European Commission will be looking at the way EU member state implemented the 2004 gender equality directive vis-à-vis trans people in its 2010 report. It will also be publishing its first trans specific legal and policy mapping study.

The Council of Europe will be mirroring the Fundamental Rights Agency’s report on homophobia and transphobia in the EU in its 20 member states which are not members of the European Union. Additionally, the Commission for Human Rights will keep raising the issues around transgender human dignity and human rights in his country visits.

The Fundamental Rights Agency will be updating its transgender fact sheet during 2010, while keeping up its awareness raising around the findings of its report on homophobia and transphobia.

Finally, the EQUINET, the European network of equality bodies, will issue an Opinion-Statement on the gap in anti-discrimination legislation with regards to trans people and will address the lack of mandate of the equality bodies in some EU member states in dealing with trans issues.

At the end of the conference a declaration on the rights of trans people was read, debated and approved. This declaration will now pass to the ILGA-Europe’s annual conference and Transgender Europe for their approval and once approved should inform the joint work of the two organisations in the coming years.

ILGA-Europe’s family posters displayed in Malta

Today (28/10/2009) four posters from ILGA-Europe’s “Different Families, Same Love” 12 family posters set are displayed on bus stops in various regions in Malta during the duration of ILGA-Europe’s 13th annual conference in Malta (29 October – 1 November 2009).

These family posters have been launched by ILGA-Europe in 2008 to enhance the European and national debate on diversity of family models. The posters highlight the challenges which LGBT families and their children face due to the lack of legal recognition. The posters also highlight some positive development at European level towards legal recognition and acceptance of LGBT families and their children. The posters have already been displayed in various European countries.

From today ILGA-Europe posters translated into Maltese will appear on bus stops across Malta.

Linda Freimane, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

“We are glad to see our family campaign posters being displayed in Malta. We hope that the images and short stories on the posters will make many people think and agree that all families regardless of partners’ and their children’s sexual orientation and gender identity deserve same respect, recognition and protection.”

Bernard Muscat, representative of the Malta Gay Rights Movement, added:

“MGRM believes it is high time for Malta to stop ignoring the presence of same-sex families in Malta as if these did not exist and did not contribute to Maltese society in the same way opposite-sex couples do. It is crucial to enact the necessary legislation changes to ensure that different forms of families are recognized as equal before the law, irrespective of the partners’ sexual orientation or gender identity.”

President of Malta highlights the importance of love and condemns discrimination - meeting with representatives of ILGA-Europe

Today (27/10/2009), representatives of ILGA-Europe’s executive board and staff met with His Excellency Dr George Abela, President of Malta. This meeting was facilitated by Malta Gay Rights Movement who is a co-host of the 13th ILGA-Europe’s annual conference taking place this week in Malta.

During the meeting Dr George Abela highlighted the importance of information and education in tackling discrimination and increasing tolerance and acceptance of differences. He said there is definitely a progress in Malta regarding greater acceptance of people with minority sexual orientation.

Dr Abela, who became a President of Malta 6 months ago, also made a reference to his inaugural speech when he stressed the importance of inclusiveness and condemned discrimination. He said he had LGBT people specifically in mind when referring to minorities and various families during his inaugural speech.

President Abela stressed the important of anti-discrimination legislation in employment and agreed that Malta EU membership is a positive factor contributing towards greater debate on diversity and acceptance.

When asked to reflect on the theme of ILGA-Europe’s conference in Malta “Overcoming Cultural and Religious Barriers to LGBT Equality”, President Abela said he believes love is the most important virtue and value and cannot be graded depending on sexual orientation.

The meeting took place in the presidential palace in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This is the first time a head of state meets representatives of ILGA-Europe during its annual conference.