2007 ILGA Europe, Vilnius, Lithuania
ILGA Europe has had its 11th Annual Conference in Vilnius (Lithuania). There were present 181 participants from 160 organizations from almost all the European countries. The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups was represented by the male co-president Enric Vilà putting into effect our decision to have a permanent representative in ILGA Europe & ILGA World conferences as was decided at the last 25th Strassboug's Forum Annual Conference.
Other Forum members were also present there, taking an active role in workshops: Randi Solberg representing Ombud of Norway and member of Åpen Kirkegruppe — Norway lead wokshop on “Homosexuality, religion and ethnicity” and Florin from MCC Bucuresti — Romania (region 5) who delivered several workshops as: “Reacting to the religious right” and “Reconciling sexuality with spirituality” in partnership with Rev. Chris (Anglican Clergy Consultation — UK).
Some homophobe Lithuanian persons gathered in front the conference’s hotel declaring “Lithuania is a non-gay zone” or “Go home” during Friday morning. Others, dressed in shirts with “Homosexuality propaganda NO” were asking for people’s signatures in the streets and could also be seen in Vilnius’ city centre. This time there was no opportunity for homophobic Lithuanian people to throw violent eggs or bottles like in last ILGA Europe’s meeting in July in Budapest. It simply happened something worse: the rainbow flag demonstration was forbidden by the Mayor of Vilnius. The official municipality authorities excuse was “road works” in the place chosen for demonstration (“safety” reasons) but as no alternative venue was given (something compulsory), Lithuanian Gay League’s legal action was initiated against Vilnius City Council to overturn the ban. Conclusion: a real SHAME! Clandestine LGBT citizens in a UE country! The Forum applauds and supports this Lithuanian Gay League’s legal action.
ILGA Europe (currently there are 222 full member organisations, 156 individual and 11 associate members) discussed and approved (among others) executive board’s report, accounts 2006/7, moment of financial position and indicative budget 2007/8, appointment of an auditor for 2007/8, change of financial year, working programme, minimum number of votes to be elected, establishment of an election preparation countries, executive board and reserves, election of regional representatives on the ILGA World’s executive board, election of the host organization for the 2009 regional conference (Malta Gay Rights Movement). The special point discussed this year was Developing a Strategic Plan for ILGA Europe 2008—2011, including new objectives and strategies. In this way, conclusions were taken into account of Budapest’s Meeting past 7th July 2007 which had a consultative status from organizations attending invitation of ILGA Europe’s board organisations to make comments and suggestions for modifications to be considered in its review to achieve greater equality for LGBT people throughout Europe. On the other hand a resolution “We will not stand for it” on forbidden Vilnius’ demonstration was also passed.
Different relevant panels are to be remarked: “How governments, Equality Bodies and Ombuds Offices can implement international and national commitments that support the human rights of LGBT people” and “How European institutions can take responsibility for the recognition and respect of human rights of LGBT people”. Specially remarkable was “Using the Yogyakarta principles at national, regional and international levels to advocate for LGBT human rights”. This principles (an international law Chart or Carta Magna) were launched on 26 march 2007 and affirm binding international legal standards to combat discrimination and attacks on people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The principles were developed and unanimously adopted by a distinguished group of 30 human rights experts, from diverse regions and backgrounds, in an international seminar from 6—9th November 2006 in Yogyakarta (Indonesia). On the other hand there was “Using the newly acquired ECOSOC ILGA Europe status to advance LGBT rights at the United Nations”. Last December 2006, after a vigorous campaign, ILGA Europe obtained accreditation to the UN as organisation in “consultative status”. This creates opportunities for ILGA Europe to engage with the UN in a new era of visibility around LGBT issues internationally. Our Forum supports in this way those policies to be crucial steps for future.