LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Speakers at the Annual Conference 2014

Look here for more information on the speakers at the Annual Conference 2014

Queer-ED talk: Jordi Vaquer

Director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe and the regional director for Europe at the Open Society Foundations.

Jordi Vaquer is the Director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe and regional director for Europe at the Open Society Foundations. As a Director of European Office at Open Society Foundations he is therefore responsible for overseeing and reassuring the development of the civil society in Europe. He is also a columnist on international affairs in El Pais, Spain’s leading newspaper, and a commentator for different media. Before his position at Open Society Foundations he was the Director of the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. Jordi Vaquer graduated from Autonomous University of Barcelona, received MA from College of Europe in Bruges, and completed PhD in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Conference host: Miguel Vale de Almeida
Anthropologist, Professor at the University Institute of Lisbon, and LGBTI activist

Miguel Vale de Almeida (Lisbon, 1960) is Professor of Anthropology at ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute and Researcher at CRIA – Center for Research in Anthropology. With research in Portugal, Brazil, Spain, and Israel/Palestine, his work has focused on gender and sexuality, as well as on ‘race’ and ethnicity, and postcolonialism. He published several books, two of which in English: ‘The Hegemonic Male’, on masculinity, and ‘An Earth-Colored Sea’, on Portuguese colonialism and postcolonialism in Portuguese-speaking countries. He has also published an edited volume on the body, “Corpo Presente”, co-edited one on colonialism and post-colonialism, “Trânsitos Coloniais”, and published a collection of his essays on anthropology and citizenship, “Outros Destinos”, as well as a collection of news paperop-eds, “Os Tempos que Correm”, a book of short stories, “Quebrar em Caso de Emergência”, and an award-wining science-fiction and dystopia novel, “Euronovela”. His latest book, in Portuguese, is ‘A Chave do Armário’, on issues of same-sex marriage and family. As an LGBT rights’ activist, he was a member of Portuguese Parliament, instrumental in the passing of the same-sex marriage and gender identity laws.

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Eliza Byard
Executive Director of GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), a U.S.-based NGO

Eliza Byard is the Executive Director of GLSEN, recognised worldwide as an innovative leader in the education, youth development and civil rights sectors fighting to end anti-LGBT bullying, violence and discrimination in primary and secondary schools and promote a culture of respect for all. Byard has crafted and implemented advocacy and legislative strategies that have won support for GLSEN’s issues at all levels of government and across the political spectrum, and fostered widespread acceptance of the urgency and importance of LGBT issues as part of a commitment to better educational opportunity and healthy youth development. GLSEN’s programs and materials have reached schools in all fifty states in the U.S.A. The organisation’s strategies and initiatives have sparked active partnerships with NGOs at work on similar issues around the world, and GLSEN convenes the Global Network Combating Anti-LGBT Bias and Violence in Schools. The current U.S. Presidential Administration honored GLSEN as a “Champion of Change” for suicide prevention, and the organisation has been named a “Top Three National Non-Profit” for its impact on LGBT equality and support in the United States.

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Helena Dalli
Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties

Helena Dalli is the Maltese Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties. She was elected to the Maltese Parliament for the first time in 1996 and served as Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. Dr Dalli was re-elected to Parliament in all subsequent national elections. Between 1998 and 2013 she served as shadow minister for the public administration, public investment and gender equality, as well as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. Following a change in government in March 2013, Dr Dalli was appointed minister, and has already supported various human rights and equality acts including a Civil Union Act and the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Constitution’s anti-discrimination article (both in April 2014), and the forthcoming bills including the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Bill (concerning the human rights of trans and intersex people) and Cohabitation Bill (open to heterosexual and same-sex couples alike), as well as a process that leads to the setting up of a Human Rights and Equality Commission in line with the Paris Principles.

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Charles Radcliffe
Chief of Global Issues Section at the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, and senior UN human rights adviser on sexual orientation and gender identity 

Charles Radcliffe coordinates work on a range of thematic human rights issues at the UN Human Rights Office in New York. He also serves as the senior adviser on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity and leads the UN Free & Equal campaign -- an unprecedented UN global public information campaign aimed at raising awareness of discrimination against LGBTI people. Prior to joining UN, he helped to establish International Crises Group, NGO committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflicts. He has also worked as a political adviser and speechwriter.

Marja Ruotanen
Director of Human Dignity and Equality within the Directorate General of Democracy, Council of Europe 

Director of Human Dignity and Equality within the Directorate General of Democracy, responsible for Violence against Women, Trafficking in Human Beings, Children’s Rights, Gender Equality, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity issues, as well as Anti-discrimination and Sport. Marja Ruotanen joined the Council of Europe in 1990 and has held several positions, including Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General, and recently Director of Justice and Human Dignity within the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law. She has served as Secretary to various Parliamentary Assembly Committees, notably the Political Affairs Committee, Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population and the Committee on Gender Equality. She was born in Rovaniemi, Finland and studied International Relations (political science and law) at McGill University in Montreal (Canada).

Graeme Reid
Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch

Graeme Reid is a research expert on LGBT rights, sexuality, gender, and HIV/AIDS. He was a founding director of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of South Africa, a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and a lecturer in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at Yale University. He joined Human Rights Watch in 2011.

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Matthew “Matty” Hart   

Matthew “Matty” Hart is the founder and Principle of the Paris-based Lafayette Practice. Hart and The Lafayette Practice (TLP) specialise in advising on philanthropic strategy and management. TLP supports organisations from grassroots nonprofits and NGOs to International Foundations, in planning and implementation; institutional
partnership-building; development and fundraising strategy; public relations; marketing; and relationship management. Hart’s philanthropic leadership is exemplified by his role as the President of the Board of Directors of the Calamus Foundation, where he consults widely with foundations and individual philanthropists to advance LGBT equity and human rights. Hart is currently the Senior Strategist for Europe for Funders Concerned About AIDS.

Ulrike Lunacek
Member of the European Parliament since 2009, Vice-President of the European Parliament, EP-Rapporteur for Kosovo and Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup of the European Parliament.   

Born in 1957 in Krems, Austria; after finishing High School in Vienna Ulrike Lunacek studied for becoming an interpreter (English-Spanish-German) at the University of Innsbruck. From 1983 to 1995 she worked as journalist, editor, interpreter and teacher in development education, feminist and LGBT NGOs. From 1996 to 1998 she was Secretary General of the Austrian Green Party, then from 1999 to 2009 Member of the Austrian Parliament, being the Austrian Greens` Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Development Issues as well as on Equal Rights for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender. In 1995/1996 she was the first Austrian politician to be open about her (lesbian) sexual orientation. From 2006 to 2009 she was Co-Spokesperson of the European Green Party (EGP).

Julia Ehrt
Executive Director of Transgender Europe   

Julia Ehrt is the Executive Director of Transgender Europe. As the director she is responsible for the development of the organisation. She has been involved in trans activism since more than ten years starting in a group of young transgender persons questioning the omnipresent bi-polar gender identity approach in society. Since then she has been involved for several years in the Transgender Network Berlin lobbying for a change in gender recognition legislation and is a founding member of the Berlin based organisation TransInterQueer. In 2005 she was one of the co-founders of Transgender Europe and has been involved on the international level ever since.

She holds a PhD in Mathematics and lives with her partner and daughter in Berlin.

Natia Gvianishvili
Program director at the Women's Initiatives Supporting Group, Georgia.   

Natia Gvianishvili is a 28 years old lesbian feminist activist and researcher from Georgia. She represents Women's Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG), a feminist organization working on LGBT issues with special focus on lesbian, bisexual women and transgender persons. Since 2006 WISG has been working on community empowerment and advocacy supporting and enabling many young activists, like Natia herself, to become involved in feminist and queer activism in Georgia.
Natia joined LGBT community in 2009 and since then has been actively involved in the work dedicated to community empowerment. In 2012 she received Master's degree in Gender Studies. She worked on WISG's LGBT Discrimination Study (2012) (project supported by ILGA-Europe) where she authored the chapter on situation of transgender persons and recently completed her study on Internalized Homophobia, Stress Factors and Coping Mechanisms in Georgian LGBQ Community (with support from the South Caucasus Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation).

Emina Bošnjak
Programme Manager, Sarajevo Open Centre|

Emina Bošnjak (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) is a feminist and a LGBT activist, currently working in Sarajevo Open Centre, an organisation that promotes the full respect of human rights and combats discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. She studies law at the University in Sarajevo. As a Programme Manager, she contributes to the management of the organization, international advocacy, and the production of annual reports on the state of the human rights of women and LGBT people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Yves Aerts
Coordinator, Çavaria, Belgium   

Yves Aerts is the coordinator of çavaria, the LGBT umbrella organisation in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, with more than 120 member organisations. Çavaria inspires, stimulates and supports associations and individuals who stand up for a broad view on sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. The organisation strives for the well-being and fights for the rights of homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in all aspects of everyday life. Çavaria also co-organises the Belgian Pride.
Yves is instrumental in lobbying for LGBT causes in Flemish and Belgian politics. Before he became coordinator of çavaria he was a voluntary board member and president of Het Roze Huis (The Pink House) in Antwerp. Het Roze Huis is the LGBT umbrella organization for the province of Antwerp. Yves was active in several LGBT youth organisations before moving on to Het Roze Huis. Next to his job at çavaria, Yves is also a board member at the Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men and acting board member at the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities and Federal Migration Centre.

Costa Gavrielides
President of Accept – LGBT Cyprus

Costa Gavrielides is the President of Accept – LGBT Cyprus, the only registered LGBTI organisation in the Republic of Cyprus, formed in 2011. Being in one of the most homophobic EU countries, according to ILGA-Europe, the organisation has a wide scope of operations, primarily advocating for political rights of the LGBTI, educating the society, while also supporting and empowering the LGBTI community.

Costa has been actively involved in setting the foundations and drafting strategic moves for the organisation and has been particularly active in advocating the voting of a Civil Partnership law in Cyprus, while also assisting LGBTI asylum seeker cases. In May 2014, he oversaw the organisation of the first Cyprus Pride Festival, an event fiercely contested by the Church of Cyprus. The Pride Parade was eventually attended by over 4500 people, making it one of the most successful marches for social rights in Cyprus in recent history. Costa was instrumental for gathering support to the event by almost all parliamentary political parties who marched together with Mr. George Vasiliou - former President of Cyprus, MEPs, MPs, the European Commission, the European Parliament and fifteen Embassies, amongst others.

Linda Freimane
Co-founder and activist, Mozaika

Linda Freimane is a long time activist and one of the founders of LGBT and their friends’ alliance Mozaika, as well as its chairperson until 2012. She was a member of the ILGA Europe board from 2006-2012, serving as co-chair four of these years. This year Linda Freimane is chairing the ILGA Europe Riga 2014 conference local host committee. Born in Stockholm but a resident of Latvia since 1997. She has a legal background and has also worked as a journalist in Sweden. Currently she runs an events organisation in Riga.