This year’s theme: The Power of Us
The Gathering Online 2021, our second online alternative to an in-person ILGA-Europe conference, will focus on how we can harness The Power of Us at this time, when the change brought about by the rising anti-LGBTI forces, the COVID-19 pandemic and many other socio-economic and environmental changes are altering our world in ways in which we don’t fully understand yet, and are affecting LGBTI communities in adverse ways.
Change is an inherent part of being alive. However, change – especially, big shifts and unexpected developments, the changes that bring uncertainty and risks – can be terrifying. One of the first human responses is to fight against it. We go into survival mode, or on the offensive.
Over the past 18 months, we have been deeply reminded that change can come unexpectedly and can wreak havoc, and most of us have been left with more questions than we have answers. We’ve also seen in stark ways how our ability to deal with change is so often framed by bigger structures of inequalities.
Still, going through change is probably one of the most common human experiences of all. And our movement has proven it is an incredible source of strength, solidarity, support and inspiration in navigating the changes we all face – whether welcomed, challenging or frightening – as individuals, as activists, as organisations, as communities.
At this year’s Gathering, we will be taking a moment to reflect on how we deal with change as people and movement, and on all the richness, strength and learning that lies within our movement to continue to move forward together and for each other.
Why is there no regular Annual Conference?
After careful consideration, we have concluded that the same reasons that led us to cancel the 2020 Annual Conference are still relevant. Beyond the logistical and practical considerations, we see the profound inequalities that exist in society, which are not only replicated, but exacerbated in our communities. While some of us might be lucky enough to have access to vaccination by next autumn and regain more freedom of movement, we are acutely aware that too many in the community will not be in this position. We also know that so many of your groups and organisations have been seriously impacted by this crisis, both financially and politically. We absolutely do not want the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference to be an event that only the most privileged amongst us can join.
Will there be an in-person ILGA-Europe conference in 2022?
The answer is simple. Given a return to normal freedom of movement, we will keep our commitment to our friends in Bulgaria, where we were first planning to come together in 2020. We hope that 2022 will be the year we finally meet in person, in beautiful Sofia! In the meantime, we are committed to making The Gathering Online 2021 a moment for us to come together virtually, not only to address the issues that are of key importance to our community, but to gain a sense of united energy that is so key to the essential work you are so courageously committed to.
This year we will pay particular attention to the following themes:
- Resilience in the face of populism and growing opposition
- Racism, structural inequalities and socio-economic justice
Our programme will offer space to discuss a variety of other related topics, including asylum, the anti-trans movement, the role of the private sector and trade unions, the EU LGBTI strategy and much, much more.
Making our Gathering Online a welcoming, safe and accessible space for the LGBTI movement in Europe and Central Asia is a priority for ILGA-Europe. We are coming together at a time when we need to pay particular attention to taking care of ourselves, our community and our movement.
There are many important conversations we want and need to have, some of them a bit more challenging than others. In doing so, we should always remember that we all come with different needs, interests and expectations, personal and collective struggles. What we have in common is that we are working to shape just societies where the diversity of people is celebrated and in which all people, with their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics are able to live a fulfilling life as who they are, in safety, and are empowered to make choices at all stages of their lives.
Therefore, how we will share this online space, and how we will relate with each other is as important to advancing our goals as what we will talk about.
At ILGA-Europe we are working to create a welcoming, safe and accessible space. We ask that everybody assume individual and collective responsibility to ensure an atmosphere of mutual respect and solidarity among participants.
By registering for The Gathering Online 2021, you commit to act according to the following principles:
- Interact and engage peacefully. Differences in opinion are part of healthy interactions, so please think of these differences as useful for expanding your thinking and ways to see the world. Speak and listen with an open mind and without judgement.
- Help build a space that respects, recognises and validates the multiple lived experiences, without presumptions about others’ identities or status. Remain mindful of each other’s emotional boundaries.
- Use inclusive language. Be respectful of how people want to be referred to in terms of gender identify or expression, and of people’s pronouns. Practice inclusive language. Be aware that language may be a barrier: level of English and other languages can vary. Make sure you speak slowly and use plain English.
- Challenge oppressive behaviour, which includes harassment, bullying, verbal violence, violation of content, and any action that perpetuates LGBTI-phobia, classism, ageism, ableism, racism, misogyny, heterosexism and other oppressions. Remember that “no” is no – without having to explain why.
- Speak and listen with an open mind and heart and without judgement. Be honest and heartfelt in conversations and debates.
- Open yourself to different ways of using the space. Certain interactive features might not be available for participants who do not have access to a laptop or desktop and connect from a smartphone instead. Some people will have slower internet connections and it might take longer for them to share their input. Other participants might prefer to participate without providing verbal input but rather use the chat box. Participants might also prefer not to interact at all for personal or security reasons. Be mindful that participants might be following the session via live captioning – speak slowly and clearly. Other participants might not be able to see material displayed on screen – so don’t forget to provide audio description.
- Be mindful that people’s safety may be compromised. Participants may be connecting from a place that is not space, like from home with family or relatives to whom they are not out as an LGBTI person. They might decide not to turn on their camera as they cannot risk being recorded. Do not take screenshots that may reveal the identity of other participants. In any case, do not collect and share pictures or content without permission and consent.
What we are doing to keep this space safe
ILGA-Europe are working to make sure that The Gathering Online is as safe as possible by creating this code and by ensuring that people accessing the platform are LGBTI activists and their allies. We will actively monitor discussions during The Gathering Online, as well as chat boxes and community groups. Please note however that ILGA-Europe will not be able to monitor self-organised meet-ups.
How you can help us to keep this space safe
Alone we cannot guarantee that inappropriate comments are not made, or that links/access rights will not be shared with people who should not be joining The Gathering Online. Your help in addressing actions that go against the principles is appreciated. If you notice a participant and you believe they are not a member, partner or ally of ILGA-Europe and the LGBTI movement in Europe and Central Asia and, as such, they should not be having access to the event for security reasons, please report them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Equally, if you experience or notice offensive behaviour that is making The Gathering Online unsafe, please let us know (see below on how to report a breach to these principles).
What do we consider a breach of safe space?
- Intimidation, stalking, doxing (revealing information about participants publicly), harassment
- Any offensive comments related to but not limited to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, disability, race and ethnicity, physical appearance, religion, or other characteristics
- Intrusion of guests who have not been invited and are not LGBTI activists and/or allies
What will we do in the case of a breach?
We will investigate the case and treat the information received with full confidentiality, and will strive for a proportionate response based on a thorough consideration of the content and nature of the reported incident. Ultimately, if a breach has taken place, ILGA-Europe reserves the right to block access to the platform for participants who do not respect these principles.
ILGA-Europe will assess the case as soon as possible. Please note that we might not always be able to act immediately, as it will take time to assess the case and decide on a course of action. ILGA-Europe will always respond to you with a motivation of our decision.
We understand that talking about an incident that you experience or witness can be upsetting. We will make every effort to respond with sensitivity and respect. You are also welcome to ask a friend to contact ILGA-Europe on your behalf. You will not be asked to confront others, nor be required to engage in the response process, unless you choose to.
Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make this process easier for you, and we will do all that we can to meet your request.
What you can do if there is an incident?
Please send an e-mail to: email@example.com. This message will only be seen by the following people: Evelyne Paradis (Executive Director), Darienne Flemington (Board chair), Anastasia Danilova (Board member). The message can be sent in either English or Russian. You may also write directly to any other ILGA-Europe board members (see full list here)
When incidents happen during sessions, you can also inform the facilitator of that session by sending a direct message in the chat box.
When you report an incident, please provide as much information as possible to help us assess the case, such as:
- Name of the offender
- Nature of the incident(s) / explanation on why you feel this code has been breached
- Screenshots/chats/ other information that helps us assess the case