LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Strategic communications

Read here ILGA-Europe's expertise on strategic communications. 

The stories we tell shape what people think about LGBTI people and issues. Whether working with LGBTI communities, building alliances, campaigning or advocating for new pieces of legislation; the way we ‘frame’ our work and our messages will significantly affect our impact.

By understanding framing—how these stories interact with our thinking - campaigners and activists can craft their communications to create sustainable social change.”

Framing Equality Toolkit, by ILGA-Europe & PIRC

Strengthening our ability to communicate effectively is an important priority in ILGA-Europe’s work.  We aim to use the full potential of both traditional and social media. In our work we distinguish key strategic audiences, as they all require unique communication strategies. Yet, it is clear that the usage of traditional and social media needs to be expanded with strategic thinking, planning and clear advocacy objectives. This has proven to be an effective combination towards social change – for ILGA-Europe and for its member organisations on national level.

  • ILGA-Europe facilitates various trainings sessions and structured coaching for our member organisations to build skills on e.g. working with the media, social media tools and strategic communication.
  • Our Creating Opportunities programme is another vital support for our members. Through this programme, ILGA-Europe support mobilisation and campaigning activities at national level. In 2021 Creating Opportunities is focusing on developing strong narratives to counter attacks on trans rights and identities. Click here if it sounds relevant to you.
  • You can watch the recordings of our webinar series on strategic communications here
  • Find here more external resources and tools on strategic communications and campaigning

ILGA-Europe also developed specific work to understand how people in Europe think about LGBTI equality and how to adjust LGBTI organisations’ communication accordingly to increase support and mobilisation.  See below more info about the project and the tools developed. 

Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe

In September 2015, ILGA-Europe and PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre) started the project, Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe.  We want to understand how people in Europe think about LGBTI equality and how to adjust LGBTI organisations’ communications accordingly to increase support and mobilisation. 

What we did:

Training workshop: We carried out a workshop with activists from across Europe in late 2015 to assess the landscape, get a sense of what was and wasn’t working, and to develop some new tools and ways of talking about our issues.

Framing analysis: We reviewed the key themes of the framing of LGBTI people, through text analysis and talking to practitioners.

Literature review: ILGA-Europe members and staff submitted nearly 200 literature sources (some of which were in fact also large databases), from which we reviewed a spread of data about LGBTI-phobia, and successful campaigning.

Interviews: We reviewed interview material from ILGA-Europe members and staff on the key current challenges for the movement and campaign successes.

Hypothesis development: From this background work, we developed a number of hypotheses for better communication.

Narrative development workshop: We carried out a second workshop with activists from Lithuania, Slovenia and Italy to focus on how we might develop new ways of communicating, using these (and other) hypotheses as guides.

Message testing: We used materials developed during and following this workshop to test some of our hypotheses using some lower-cost and mid-range testing methodologies.

Framing Equality Toolkit and Testing guide: As a result of the two-year collaboration between ILGA-Europe and PIRC we have published two resource materials to support the European LGBTI movement efforts to increase public support for LGBTI equality. 

Interested in knowing more about the project? Contact Valeria Santostefano, Senior Programmes & Policy Officer

Framing Equality Toolkit

This toolkit is a short guide to strategic communications, based on extensive research and building on the experience of activists and communicators from around the globe.

It aims to provide a framework rather than a blueprint; helping you to ask the right questions rather than giving you the right answers. It’s designed to be helpful for anyone who communicates as part of their voluntary or paid work. It’s written with a focus on European LGBTI activists, but we hope it will be useful to others with a similar vision.

Find out more and access the Toolkit here.

Testing Guide

When you communicate you usually have a good idea of what you want to say and the change you want to make. But how do you know it’s going to work? That’s where testing comes in. Testing tells you whether your choice of framing (the emphasis you put on particular concepts) is associated with the outcomes you are aiming for.

Testing helps you examine your assumptions about what will work and why. It helps you learn more about the people you communicate with. Quite simply, it makes your campaigns more likely to succeed.

This is a resource to help you test your messages. It is designed for campaigners who have little or no experience with message testing. You can use this guide if you’re working with a research company and want to be able to explain what you need and make sense of what they provide. You can also use it to get more involved in testing messages yourself.

Find out more and access the Guide here.

Responding to Anti-gender

In the last few years, ILGA-Europe worked on various fronts to better understand the anti-gender movement and its impact on public discourse and the lives and rights of LGBTI communities. We collected research, monitored country situations, talked with activists, allies and researchers to better understand the phenomenon and its implications.  We have worked closely with member organisations in responding and resisting to attacks through our advocacy work but also contributing to build the movement’s capacity in this area.

Find out more about our work on responding effectively to the anti-gender discourse.

Strategic Communications Need Assessment

In October 2019, we launched a survey to better understand how communications are currently being used, and the needs/capabilities LGBTI groups and organisations in Europe and Central Asia have for this critical organisational function. Almost 200 LGBTI groups and organisations, small and big, registered and non-registered, ILGA-Europe members or not, participated in this survey.

Consisting of surveys, focus groups, interviews and webinars with 190+ activists from 45 countries, this is the most in-depth investigation into the communications strength of the movement in Europe and Central Asia. 

ILGA-Europe are using the results to plan for new guides and resources to support strategic communications work, and, with the help of our donors, creating new grant opportunities to support communications efforts.

  • Want to read the report of ‘Communicating for Change: a communications needs assessment of the LGBTI movement in Europe and Central Asia’? Download your own copy of the summary report in English and Russian.

In February 2020, we hosted a webinar on the results of the need assessment, with the participation of George Perlov, Principal at George Perlov Consulting, Greg Czarnecki, Programme Officer at Open Society Foundation, Laura Piazza, Senior Campaign and Programmes Officer at ILGA-Europe, and Bjorn Van Roozendaal, Programmes Director at ILGA-Europe. Would you like to watch the recording of this webinar?  Please contact ILGA-Europe Senior Campaign and Programmes Officer Laura Piazza at

In April 2021, we hosted a webinar for LGBTI activists to launch the report ‘Communicating for Change: a communications needs assessment of the LGBTI movement in Europe and Central Asia’. Please contact ILGA-Europe Senior Campaign and Programmes Officer Laura Piazza at

Skills Boost

At the end of 2020, ILGA-Europe invited Richard Roaf - director of VideoRev, an expert in helping activists develop low-budget viral campaign videos - to host a video ‘Skills Boost’. 

Activists learned strategic, creative and technical tips to create great campaign videos at home, with no budget. Many of the participants created their own videos straight away and got extra help from Richard and each other. 

In January 2021, we premiered a small selection of their videos on Facebook and shared them on Instagram. Introduced by Richard Roaf, it was a moment to learn more about making no-budget campaign videos from the videos themselves, and celebrate this creative, personal, and authentic way for our movement’s messages to travel, even when we cannot.