LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

An update on ILGA-Europe’s newest programme: Creating Opportunities

In 2015, ILGA-Europe started its new programme Creating Opportunities, designed to support organisations that face threats to LGBTI rights in their countries, or significant opportunities to affirm or strengthen them.

The programme has supported campaigning and mobilisation activities in Lithuania on legal gender recognition, in Italy on civil partnerships and step-child adoption, and in Slovenia on equal marriage. Below is a summary of the projects we have supported so far.

Lithuania: campaign on trans visibility

In December 2015, the National Lithuanian LGBT organisation LGL launched a campaign to increase the visibility of trans people and raise awareness on the difficulties they face in society. Lithuania was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2007 as its current legislation regarding gender reassignment procedures fail to respect international human rights standards. The judgment has not been implemented by Lithuania so far.

One of the highlights of the “#Trans_LT” campaign, supported by Creating Opportunities, was a series of videos featuring members of the trans community sharing their experiences. More than an awareness-raising tool, the video also serves to incite the public to sign a petition.

The online petition was signed by more than 1,800 people and the videos were viewed and shared more than 50,000 times, already indicating the positive impact of LGL’s campaign on trans visibility. With this petition, LGL wants to encourage authorities to implement the European Court of Human Rights judgment and adopt legislation that fulfils the country’s human rights obligations.

Read more about the campaign here.

Italy: civil partnerships and step-child adoption

In Italy, the Senate is currently discussing a law proposal on civil partnership, which could include a provision on step-child adoption. Arcigay and Famiglie Arcobaleno organised an awareness-raising campaign in December 2015 on the lack of rights of same-sex families. The goal is to gather public support so this provision is not dropped.

The “Disegno di Famiglia” campaign centered around a video featuring children from different types of families (same-sex parents, different sex parents, single parents). The children drawings of their families showed how similar they are, yet not all are recognised by law. The video was accompanied by an informative website on step-child adoption and the necessity to legislate on the matter.

The campaign was widely visible on mainstream media as well as social media. On the Facebook pages of the organisers, the video was viewed close to 100,000 times.

Read more about the campaign on Arcigay’s website (in Italian) here.

Slovenia: countering a referendum against marriage equality

A law enabling same-sex couples to marry was voted in Slovenia in May 2015. However a conservative group launched a citizens’ initiative in order to prevent the law from entering into force. Having gathered enough signatures, the group’s initiative led to a referendum in November 2015: Slovenian citizens were asked whether they supported the law on equal marriage.

ILGA-Europe offered a strategic support to the movement in Slovenia for the “Čas je ZA” – “time to say yes” campaign. We accompanied their reflection on strategy and messaging on LGBTI rights and equality. Even though they had little time at their disposal, and despite the negative outcome of the referendum, the movement in Slovenia led a great campaign which managed to change the tone of discourse on LGBTI issues in the country.

Take a look at their campaign website here.

A work to be continued in 2016

Creating Opportunities will continue to support the movement in Europe in 2016. Stay tuned for more developments and successes!

For more detail about Creating Opportunities, its goal, organisation and criteria for support, click here.