Invitation to 12th Queer Easter in the Education Centre Kurt Löwenstein, 18.-25.04.2011

We would like to invite you to the upcoming 12th Queer Easter “Know Queer, No Fear: Educating today for a socialist tomorrow”. This non-formal educational seminar will take place from 18.-25.04.2011 in Werftpfuhl/ Germany. The seminar is organized by the education centre Kurt Loewenstein of the Socialist Youth of Germany – Die Falken in cooperation with IFM-SEI and ECOSY. Thematical focus will be this year the topic of education for sexual diversity. We want to work on developing strategies to overcome heteronormativity and homophobia in our societies. We will discuss, what is needed to change society, to combat homophobia and to achieve equality in sexual diversity. We want to develop educational methods, which can be used afterwards back home to continue our struggle against homophobia and heteronormativity.

At Queer Easter we strive every year to create a safe environment, where every participant can feel comfortable to talk about their own experiences, and feed into discussions held in an atmosphere of respect and understanding. In talking about such sensitive and personal issues and their relation to the area of politics and society, we are also asking every participant to challenge themselves, and reflect on their own lifestyle and attitudes. For this reason, we ask that every participant comes to the seminar with the willingness to examine themselves, to express their own opinion, and to respect those of others – to question some of those things that are embedded so completely in our societies, those things that perpetuate intolerance and inequality. To change the world, we must first examine, challenge and consciously change ourselves – and for this we ask that everyone remembers the importance of keeping an open mind in relation to this subject, and the process of the seminar.

PROGRAMME

The topic of the seminar will be explored through a variety of workshops, discussion rounds and working groups. Besides this, Queer Easter will also offer the opportunity to learn more about LGBT situations in other countries, and there will be provided a space for exchanging experiences, projects and campaigns that our different organisations are running. And of course we have not forgotten about having fun together e.g. while spending one day in Berlin. A draft program will be available mid marc. Some 4 weeks before the seminar, we will send a description how to reach the educational centre and a last information email with details of what we would like you to bring, what to prepare beforehand and other useful information.

DATES

This 12th Queer Easter Seminar will take place from 18-25.4.2011.

VENUE

The venue and accommodation will be at the Education Centre Kurt Loewenstein in Werftpfuhl in the northeast suburbs of Berlin. The closest airports are in Berlin, from where the venue can be reached with local transport. Exact travel details will be sent to you after registration.

PARTICIPANTS

Participants are expected:

  • to be active in an political youth organisation (either a youth organisation of ECOSY or IFM-SEI) or active in an youth organisation dealing with LGBT issues, preferably an LGBT-youth organisation
  • to have interest in working on the issue
  • to be able to follow the seminar and communicate in English
  • to be available for the whole duration of the seminar

We do not ask for sexual orientation identification of the participants but welcome everybody who is interested in the topic of the seminar.

FINANCES

The participation fee depends on the country you are coming from (between 30 – 75 Euro). Please contact Tim Scholz for exact details. This fee includes participation in the programme and accommodation as well as four meals per day for the duration of the event and a day-trip to Berlin.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT

Due to the difficult financial situation we are unfortunately in general unable to reimburse your travel expenses, except in case of special agreements (please contact the education officer Tim Scholz on exact details of this).

REGISTRATION

Registration for the Seminar is only possible online via a registration form, which you can find here. Online registration will be possible from the 18.02.2011 onwards. Please do not do it earlier. Thanks for understanding. Registration Deadline is 01.04.2011. We are asking every participant from your organisation to register separately in order to let them fill in the motivation questions by themselves. If you are coming with a delegation from an organisation, we ask that you pay attention to the biological sex balance of your group, so that we have a balance at the seminar. In case participants need Visa to enter Germany the deadline is the 15.03.2011. Please register online as soon as possible since the original personal invitation letters are going to be sent out on the 16.03.11. The originals will be sent to the nearest German consulate. You will get scanned copies of this letters to apply for the visa.

FURTHER QUESTIONS

In case of further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Tim Scholz . Looking forward to welcome you at Queer Easter 2011 in Werftpfuhl!

Baltic Pride is under threat!

Raimondas Petrauskas, Lithuania’s Interim Attorney General and Stanislovas Buškevicius, member of the Kaunas City Council, have applied to the court to ban the Baltic Pride/March for Equality scheduled for this Saturday, 8 May, which was previously authorised by the Mayor of Vilnius. Their appeal is motivated by concerns over potential security risks. According to Mr Petrauskas, the Attorney General’s office has evidence that protests will be organised by various radical groups seeking to provoke unrest if the March goes ahead. The court will deliver a decision on whether to disallow the March for Equality by tomorrow, 5 May, lunch time.

ILGA-Europe, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights and Amnesty International are calling on the Lithuanian authorities to ensure that the human right to peaceful assembly is respected and LGBT people in Lithuania are provided with adequate protection in the exercise of this right.

Article 36 of the Lithuanian Constitution states: “Citizens may not be prohibited or hindered from assembling unarmed in peaceful meetings.” Freedom of assembly is a human right which is guaranteed by major international and European human rights instruments which Lithuania has ratified, including: Article 21 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and Article 11 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The established case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on freedom of assembly has been affirmed in relation to LGBT people and the Court said that violating the right of assembly on the grounds of sexual orientation is discriminatory. The Court affirmed that the freedom of expression extends not only to the ideas and views of the majority, but also to those belonging to minorities or those that may cause shock, disagreement and opposition. Moreover, the Court has consistently ruled that if there is a risk of violence from counter-demonstrators, the state has a positive duty to protect demonstrators.

In March 2010, the government of Lithuania approved the Council of Europe’s Recommendations on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. These Recommendations reaffirm the obligation on member states of the Council of Europe to ensure ‘that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in Article 11 of the Convention, can be effectively enjoyed, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.’

Less than a week ago, on 29 April 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Resolution on Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity which calls on the Council of Europe member states to “ensure that the fundamental rights of LGBT people, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, are respected, in line with international human rights standards”.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“We appeal to the Lithuanian authorities to stand up for democratic values and human rights. The authorities cannot allow themselves to be blackmailed by threats and opposing views to sacrifice basic freedoms guaranteed both by Lithuanian legislations and the country’s international human rights obligations. It is their duty to ensure that its citizens are free to express their views and adequately protected from intimidations and individuals who do not share their opinion.”

Members of the European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek and Michael Cashman promptly reacted: “The Lithuanian authorities should be very careful in their consideration of the Public Prosecutor’s request. They must remember the binding international treaties they signed, including the EU’s Charter on Fundamental Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result, they have the legal obligation to protect citizens’ freedom of assembly—including marchers’ safety—, whether they like it or not. The European Parliament will move swiftly and decisively if Lithuania bans a gay pride parade—and we will ensure the European Commission does too.”

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Expert on Discrimination said: “Any decision to ban the Baltic Pride would be a triumph for prejudice and a victory for those prepared to resort to violence to impose their views. It would be a huge defeat for human rights and the rule of law. Amnesty International is calling on the Lithuanian authorities to honour its obligations and respect the human rights of all its citizens.”

At least four members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission, politicians from a number of European countries, representatives of ILGA-Europe and Amnesty International will be present in Vilnius during the Baltic pride 2010 this weekend.

Veronica Scognamiglio
European Campaign Coordinator on Discrimination
Amnesty International EU Office, rue de Trèves, 35, Boite 3 B-1040 Brussels, Belgium
phone (direct line) 32-2-5482761, [phone] (switchboard) 32-2-5021499 fax 32-2-5025686

CWG Rainbow Children for a Social(ist) change

In our Creative Working Group (CWG) we worked with Rainbow issues and how it’s created from a child’s point of view within Rainbow, the topics of sexuality, gender, identity and sex education are included.

We looked on society’s influence and power in this relation, discussed the aims and methods of Socialist Education, worked with Compasito1 and created our own LGBT-oriented exercises. In keeping with the aims of Socialist Education we wish to create educational methods that are critical towards society, heteronormativity and prejudices in order to present children with diversity and mutual respect.

Contact person: Carly Walker-Dawson , The Woodcraft Folk, UK

Teamers:

Participants:

CWG Identity Politics

Our Group – developing from a research to a non-research to a discussion group – read some texts on the history and possible usage of identity as a mean of politics. Do identity politics reinforce stereotypes and belongings we want to overcome as caused by oppression or are they the only way to get visible in claiming one’s needs? Discussing this, how and whether we want to discuss at all, we didn’t come to a final conclusion, but a lot of different perspectives on it instead.

CWG What’s Your Story?

cwg_whats_your_storyOver the course of 4 sessions, participants analysed their family, friendship, political and sexual narratives, to create a ‘river of life’. By using a wide range of team-building methods, an enormous degree of trust and respect developed between the participants.

CWG What’s Your Story?

Through reading poetry by Carol Ann Duffy, and autobiography by Edmund White, we investigated the different forms that can be used to communicate these narratives. Finally, participants applied these learnings to their creative writing, as well as writing their own personal narratives, and those of other members of the group.

Personal Pledges of the Participants

Comment from the participants:

  • I will be more open about myself
  • I will do a workshop about QT back home
  • I will make and run a workshop and work on advocacy program
  • I will make a LGBT group in SDY Serbia
  • I will do workshop about the topic with Ania & Kasia for other members of my organisation
  • I will talk to my family about me
  • I will try to cooperate with other LGBT organisations in my country and other countries
  • I will show movie „My sister Sarah“ to my peers in the school
  • I will speak about being different in Slovak society
  • I will continue to educate and argue with my working colleagues about gay rights and QT
  • I will research and publish studies about LGBT issues
  • I will protest in the demonstrations and maintain visibility of the queer community to inspire public discussion
  • I will be more visible and speak out
  • I will translate movie „My sister Sarah“ in Slovak language
  • I will organise East European Experiences exchange
  • I will do a session in my community
  • I will think about queer theory and NOV
  • I will work on education, „I care“ attitude and will go beyond stereotypes thinking outside the box
  • I will work for reform of my church from within
  • I will act when I see or hear prejudice
  • I will found an LGBT section in our political organisation
  • I will take part in the LGBT festival and become more open and not tolerate discrimination
  • I will not accept intolerant (homophobic) comments
  • I will make people understand that the struggle is not over yet
  • I will send a letter to publishers of schoolbooks in Germany to develop awareness of the missing diversity
  • I will take action against homophobic news and change them Bringing the discussion about LGBT issues in my organisation
  • I will work on education of the society outside LGBT communities against homophobia and for human equality and diversity
  • I want to pay more attention to homophobia in my movement
  • I will respect diversity as an important part of free world
  • I will discuss queer education with the teachers and people from the educational system
  • I will keep fighting to get to queertopia
  • I will encourage more people to get involved with LGBT issues
  • I will raise awareness over and over again
  • I will try to improve cooperation between our gay and lesbian organisations during lesbian festival in Prague in May
  • I will strip myself of all prejudice and meet others with open arms
  • I will be more tolerant to heterosexuals and Catholics
  • I will start queer issuess in my organisation
  • I will influence mother party on queer issues
  • I will be more open
  • I will bring young non LGBT members to next Queer Easter
  • I will go as a volunteer into any LGBT organisation
  • I will bring LGBT activists to the party
  • I will try to start queer politics in my organisation
  • I will double my efforts to change things for the better
  • I will do a queer workshop
  • I will tell people about not worrying what others will think
  • I will show more sympathy
  • I will start talking more openly and directly to friends and family about lgbt issues over and over and over again and help creating non homophobic environment
  • I will fight homophobia with activism
  • I will open for queer knowledge in my organisation
  • I will have workshops on summer camps
  • Unite a blogg action
  • I want to become more open than I am, read more and talk more to people
  • I want to think less in the heteronormative way.

Northern Ireland: Still a long way to go.

Ten years ago the Good Friday Agreement was signed in the North of Ireland. This represented a peaceful settlement to our thirty year conflict and a new beginning for everyone. One of the most important aspects of the Good Friday Agreement is what has become known as the Equality Clause; section 75.

Section 75 made it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of; religion, political belief, race, age, marital status, gender, disability or sexual orientation. It also created the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which has wide-reaching powers to investigate public bodies when it believes that discrimination has occurred.

SDLP Youth

SDLP Youth

However, although public bodies must now comply with equality legislation it has proven more difficult to change the hearts and minds of wider society into accepting a more pluralist and equal society. In Northern Ireland, we became good at hate. For so long, polarising parties such as the Democratic Unionist Party (Christian Evangelicals) and Sínn Féin (political wing of the Provisional IRA) fuelled the flames of sectarianism, making it impossible to ignore the divide between Protestant and Catholic, Nationalist and Unionist. This has changed since the Good Friday Agreement. With all parties sharing power, sectarian attacks still occur but are greatly decreased. The public are now much more accepting of their neighbours with differing political and religious outlooks. But all is not well in the North.

The overt hate, once reserved for sectarianism, has been transferred to other groups seen as ‘different’. In recent years, my own constituency of South Belfast has seen attacks on migrant workers sky-rocket with people having swastikas painted on their doors and in some cases, being burnt from their homes. Every weekend, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, home of the Gay Village, police armoured vehicles always keep a visible presence to stop the frequent attacks on people as they leave clubs.

What doesn’t help us in the LGBT community is the fact that the DUP is now the largest party in Northern Ireland. The party, founded by the creator of the Free Presbyterian Church, which has previously orchestrated the ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign. The DUP has consistently refused to acknowledge the rights of LGBT people, using religious rhetoric and allusions to perversion to justify its arguments. Even last year, the then  junior Minister Ian Paisley Jnr. said that he was ‘disgusted’ by gay people and that they did not care that they were, ‘harming themselves and harming society’. This came from the Junior Minister for the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers, whose department is responsible for equality and social cohesion.

The DUP has rejected all equality legislation regarding sexual orientation such as, the Single Equality Bill, the Goods and Services Regulations and Civil Partnerships Legislation. Of the 18 members of the UK Parliament for Northern Ireland, only the 3 SDLP MPs supported the Civil Partnerships Act.

In the face of this overt opposition, what is there that we, as social democrats, can do to achieve equality for all citizens? We will always be the youth group present at Belfast and Derry Pride, taking part in all aspects of the Pride festivals. But being active in Pride is not enough. We must be active and vocal in community groups such as; HIV Support, LGBT Youth Groups, Gay and Bisexual Health Organisations to name just a few.

We must promote positive pride, ensuring that gay people are not viewed as a distant and separate community but that we are your teachers, your doctors, your bus drivers and your police.

All these will be steps in the right direction but in order to achieve full equality, governments must look at equality in a holistic manner and not simply as a boxticking exercise.

Gavin Boyd

ECOSY Bureau Member from SDLP Youth (Northern Ireland) and member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party