LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

No room for complacency – equality efforts need our time and our money

Another piece of ILGA-Europe history was created this week. 

The European Equality Gala, ILGA-Europe’s first official fundraising event, attracted over 350 equality champions and supporters to Brussels. Its success surpassed even the wildest expectations of our organising team.

ILGA-Europe would like to thank each and every one of the Gala attendees, who came to show their support for LGBTI activists across Europe. Without a doubt, these inspiring individuals and organisations are the lifeblood of the LGBTI movement. Hearing from national activists like Slovenia’s Miha Lobnik and Ireland’s Brian Sheehan last night only confirms this.

The diverse audience at the Gala also reminds us that our ILGA-Europe family is growing every year, to include supporters who might not necessarily call themselves activists. Everyone has a role to play in the LGBTI movement. NGO partners, representatives from the European Commission and Parliament – all were present last night and all are part of the movement for greater equality. This is why we are particularly grateful to our guest speakers, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission and Helena Dalli Maltese Minister for Civil Rights for their company.

Our 2015 Gala is only just the beginning; it is the opening line in a bigger conversation about ILGA-Europe’s longevity. Fundraising is going to be a vital part of our work from now on. We have come a long way since 1996 but our future is not guaranteed – this is the point our Gala was making. Just as our event patron Lord Michael Cashman pointed out, when we get too comfortable and think the work is over, then we are at our most vulnerable. Guarding against complacency is crucial for the LGBTI movement.

Individual donations are needed more than ever; they allow ILGA-Europe to react quickly to emerging situations at national level. This increased flexibility is vital; the unpredictability of the in-country situations for all our members means that their needs are always evolving. Donations to ILGA-Europe will help us to act as a bulwark against this trend.

Speaking after the event, ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis said: “The Gala confirms the existence of a groundswell of support for LGBTI equality. Having heard the positivity and commitment expressed by Vice President Timmermans last night, we are confident that the European institutions can help to translate this support into real change for LGBTI people. We cannot afford to lose any momentum; we need to harness it to proactively push for change. Equality won’t just happen by accident.”