One year in the struggle for equal rights in Portugal.

The year 2007 proved to be one of the most important in the struggle for recognition of equal rights to LGBT citizens in Portugal in recent times. A growing awareness of the issue in all groups of society, official acknowledgment of the LGBT movement and several symbolic moments of struggle in the recognition for same-sex marriage, have made 2007, if not a landmark year, at least a year when the roots of equality gained increased strength.

 

Campaign Poster of JS on the 17th of May

Campaign Poster of JS on the 17th of May

On the 17th of May 2007, the Socialist Youth launched a national awareness campaign against homophobia (under the banner Somos Iguais a Ti – We’re just like you), which prompted a significant debate in the national media and fierce reactions from the conservative right and homophobic  extreme right radicals. This particular action was inline with the Socialist Youth’s priorities in assuring equal rights to LGBT people and, particularly, with its intention of promoting a change in Portuguese legislation in what regards same-sex marriage. The position of the Portuguese Socialist Youth is very clear in this field: the only way to ensure full recognition of rights between all citizens mandates a change of legislation and the introduction of access to marriage contracts by same-sex couples, the existing recognition of legal effects to same-sex unions being clearly  insufficient to ensure equal treatment to all. Our organization has therefore prepared a piece of draft legislation, altering the Portuguese Civil Code and abolishing the exclusiveness of marriage as a contract between to persons of different genders, and is currently awaiting for an opportunity to put it before a vote in parliament.

Also in 2007, an appeal to the Constitutional Court on the conformity of the existing provisions of the Civil Code was made for the first time. After an attempt to get married at the Civil Registry in 2006 failed due to the refusal of the registry and of the courts to recognize that denying them the right to marry represented a discrimination based on their sexual orientation, two women from the northern city of Aveiro took their case to the Constitutional Court. Although a final ruling on this issue is expected only in the second semester of 2008, this case has raised sympathy for their struggle and promoted the national debate on the issue.

In spite of the fact that the major change represented by same-sex marriage is still not visible in the near horizon, several other important political, legislative and administrative reforms have defined a new concern of public bodies with the rights of LGBT people. The fact that the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All coincided with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union strongly contributed to theses developments.

 

Awarenessrising Campaigns can increase social acceptance of LGBT

Awarenessrising Campaigns can increase social acceptance of LGBT

One of the major reforms completed by the socialist Government, the reform of Public Administration encompassed a major change in relation to the LGBT movement and its main concerns. For the first time, a public body, the Commission for Gender Equality and Citizenship (Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Género), will have competences in the fight against homophobic discrimination, and the most important associations of the LGBT movement have been invited to join its Consultative Council. Furthermore, the Commission organized the first ever publicly sponsored conference on LGBT rights, which gathered academics and activists at the University of Lisbon and is associated to the Ministry of Education in a broad initiative in the field of Education for Citizenship in public schools, where the promotion of the recognition of equal rights and the fight against all types of homophobia are important items on the program.

Another major reform, that of the Penal Code, also made a clear break with the past and specifically made homophobic hate crimes and violence a punishable offense, ensuring that all forms of criminal discrimination are dealt with resolutely by the state. This change was the logical consequence of the explicit reference to the protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Portuguese Constitution since 2004, one of very few throughout the globe to do so. Not only do these changes carry important legal consequences for the protection of LGBT people, but they also encompass a remarkable symbolic message.

As we approach the International Day Against Homophobia, the Socialist Youth is once again preparing a national awareness-raising campaign against homophobia, which will be launched on May 17th 2008 and will, once more, focus on reaching people of all ages. Although the tasks ahead in the path to full equality are still considerable and arduous, it is becoming increasingly evident that the younger generations of Portuguese citizens will play a major role in the positive changes to come and are unwilling to wait much longer for equal rights for all.

Pedro Delgado Alves

ECOSY Bureau Member from the Juventude Socialista (Portugal)

Christian Homophobia.

It’s gay pride in Brussels! And we have a whole lot to celebrate! But there is also reason for less optimism: the demon of Christian morality is back in Belgium, and to a larger extend in many European countries.

 

Christian Homophobia

Christian Homophobia

Today, on the 17th of May, the most colourful parade of the year is coming through the streets of Brussels again. The theme for this year is ‘celebrate diversity’. As in Belgium two major demands, gay marriage and gay adoption rights, have been met over the last years –thanks to the socialists, who were at force!- the emphasis is this year on international solidarity. Belgium was one of the first countries in the world that acknowledged IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). We’re proud to have our gay pride this year on the same day as IDAHO! We’re taking this opportunity to put pressure on the European institutions to add actions to the discourse. Discrimination of LGBT-people still exists in a lot of European countries. It’s time for a powerful European answer to this! (For concrete demands see here in French, soon in English)

But also in Belgium we’re not there yet. What is worse is that since the Christian-Democrats came at force again after nine years of opposition intolerance is back as well. Under the name of morality they say what can and cannot be shown and done. They define what is good and what is bad, as in the good old days. One of the latest sad examples of this tendence was the attack of some Christian-Democrats of the new launched ‘tolero’-campaign of the Flemish socialist minister for Equal Rights Kathleen Van Brempt. The campaign was launched after research results had shown that one out of four youngsters still cannot stand homosexuality. According to some Christian-Democrats the campaign encourages the transmission of HIV and sexual promiscuous behaviour (!). It is unbelievable that such a nonsense actually still is said today in 2008. Time has been turned some decades back. The struggle against homophobia is highly actual and we have to beware for reactionary forces.

That’s why Animo, the Belgian Dutch speeking Young Socialists, decided to do a ludique action this year at the Gay Pride. Dressed up as school boys and girls, straight from the fifties, in perfect uniforms, we’re going to be the safetycrew that distributes our own Animo-condoms. The message may be clear: with the Christian-Democrats at force we’re back in the fifties. We say no to their retarded morality!

Even in countries where everything seems to be accomplished this is far from the case. We have to stand together and fight against homophobia as a united Europe and through international solidarity. Let’s realise our dream together!

Nick Resmann

Member of ANIMO in Belgium

HOMO SOVIETICUS. To be a “pederast” in Belarus

A campaign against homophobia, organized by a group of LGBT activists, including the author of this article tock place in Belarus from 17th of April till 17th of May 2008.

Homo Sovieticus

Homo Sovieticus

Such campaign is a unique case for Belarus, because it’s never taken place before, all previous actions on this topic were of sporadic character and did not draw the attention of mass-media. This time, the whole month the activists of Belarusian LGBT community organized the series of education activities, gave numerous interview, took part in the gay pride in Moldova, had meetings with the journalists and activists from Europe.

Among the activities of the campaign was the participation in “Chernobylsky shliah” – an annual oppositional demonstration, dedicated to commemorate the victims of Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. One of the leaders of right-wing youth organization “Malady Front”, Dmitry Dashkevich said in the postdemonstration interview to “Radio Freedom (RFL)”, that “pederasts” (the abusive word for homosexuals in Belarus) should not had taken part in this action. In his earlier interviews and public discussions he always highlighted his opinion about homosexuals as “abnormal” and “mentally insane” people. Dashkevich demonstrates his own ignorance and does not respect the opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO), which excluded homosexuality from the list of the mental illnesses. Activists of “Malady Front” are positioned as the strugglers against Lukashenka regime, for freedom and democratic and European values in Belarus. This organization often gets grants from Western sponsor and partner organizations to support human rights protection work.

Such statements of “Malady Front” leader got a resonance not only in Belarus but abroad. Many of our partner organizations cannot understand and accept such position. Their representatives asked me: “Why your youth leaders, who struggle for freedom, democracy and political prisoners discharge do not understand, that homophobia is also a kind of discrimination and human rights violation?”

Unfortunately for some oppositional leaders and activists as well as Lukashenka administration, homosexuals are “perverts”. They prefer to ignore the problems of LGBT people and blame homosexual relations as something dirty and shameful. Another leader of “Malady Front” Artur Finkevich in the interview to the mentioned above “Radio Freedom” said that all the homosexuals should be forcibly settled in reservations and their contacts to “normal” people (especially children and families) must me prohibited. In this context oppositional activists use not only rhetoric of Belarusian authorities, they are supposed to struggle against, but the rhetoric of Hitler and corresponding ideology. Ghetto, concentration camps and GULAG had taken place in our history. It looks like, that some of the oppositional youth leaders would like to put us back to that dark times.

Julia Mickiewicz

LGBT-activist, feminist, journalist is a chief-editor of web-paper „Belarusian news“, member of Belarus league of sexual equality “LAMBDA” and activist of Belarusian socialist youth.

A many splintered thing…

It has been said already elsewhere how difficult it can be to deal, as a movement, with the disparities of situations and attitudes towards homophobia across the Union. It is quite clear that there is a wide gap between the situation in very liberal countries such as the Netherlands for instance, and Poland, where taking part in a gay pride would actually put your physical integrity in danger.
pnl08_splintered
But if the legal situation looks better, does it mean that being queer is any easier in those countries? Yes, probably, but for all that, homophobic attitudes are still firmly rooted, the stereotypes are still there, and claiming your sexual orientation is still something of a via dolorosa. To convince oneself of that one only need to look at statistics when it comes to suicide: young homosexuals, especially young males, still make the bulk of the numbers.

I personally think it would be a mistake to onsider queer people as a class in the Marxist sense of the term. Thinking that a young LGBT person in an upper middle class environment has the same resources to confront the difficulties of coming out of the closet than someone coming from, say, a impoverish migrant background is plain wrong. If only because openness to queer rights is very much a question of education, and in last resort because enforcing your right is also a question of access to justice. And we still live in a society where both the educational and judiciary systems are class-ridden ones.

Well, in spite of the revolutionary flame that lights our long nights of discussion and activism, it is not very likely that we, as young socialist and social-democrats, we manage to change that during our life span, I can already hear some say. Indeed, but in terms of education at least, there are things we can do. And, thinking back to those young queers from migrant backgrounds I mentioned before, I think it is even our duty, as young socialist and social-democrats to actually do something. And that is opening up our movement. We are still far too much a group of white upper-middle class gentlemen, failing completely to reflect the full diversity of the society we are calling for in our positions. By going out and bringing in the groups we claim we are defending, we can do a lot in terms of education and open-mindedness.

Ok, this might not be much… but it is what I’ll bear in mind walking alongside the gay pride in Brussels on the 17th. That and the image of my comrade deputymayor Ahmed Elktibi, slandered by a large part of his electorate, not for being gay, but for having celebrated the installation of a monument dedicated to the memory of victims of Homophobia in Belgium.

Brian Booth,

ECOSY Vice President and member of MJS Belgium

Transgender Day of Remembrance

22.11.2008 –  Transgender Day of Remembrance in BERLIN. Demo Start ist um 14Uhr am U-Bahnhof Kochstrasse.

Dies ist keine Fun-Parade! Dieser Tag ist zum einen ein Gedenktag an die Opfer trans*phober Gewaltverbrechen und Morde und zum anderen ein Ort an dem wir gemeinsam verstorbener trans*gender und ihrer Arbeit -gegen das Vergessen einer kampfreichen Geschichte- gedenken und feiern wollen.

Gleichzeitig ist es uns wichtig, etwas politisch gegen die Repression und Diskriminierung von trans*gendern und queeren Lebensweisen zu erreichen.

Route:

  • Kreuzung Friedrichstraße/ Kochstraße
  • Kochstraße (Redebeitrag taz)
  • Dutschkestraße
  • Zimmerstraße (Redeb. Botschaft)
  • Charlottenstraße
  • Gendarmenmarkt (Redeb. Dom)
  • Französische Straße
  • Friedrichstraße (Redeb. Ecke UdL.)
  • Oranienburger Tor (Redeb.)
  • Invalidenstraße (Redeb. Museum)
  • Endkundgebung: 16.00Uhr – 18Uhr am Robert-Koch-Platz

nächstes Plenum: Sonntag den 9.11. um 18Uhr im Ackerkeller (Bergstr.68)

Wenn ihr nicht aktiv an der Orga teilnehmen könnt, dann könnt ihr dennoch das Projekt unterstützen, indem ihr zur Demo kommt, Kritik und Ideen per mail an uns herantragt, die Veranstaltung per Mund und Mail und was euch sonst noch einfällt so weit wie möglich streut! Das wäre grossartig!

tgdor OrgaTeam

kontakt: tgrd.info@googlemail.com

http://www.transgenderdor.org/

British Embassy To Fly The Rainbow Flag

The British Embassy Warsaw will fly the rainbow flag alongside the Union Jack this weekend in support of Warsaw Pride 2008. The Pride March, which marks the end of a week of Equality Days in Warsaw, will pass the Embassy on the afternoon of Saturday 7 June. HM Ambassador Ric Todd will raise the flag over the British Embassy building on Aleje Ujazdowskie at 4 o’clock this afternoon.

The rainbow flag, which is the international symbol of the LGBT community, will fly until 8am on Monday 9 June. Ambassador Ric Todd said: “The UK remains committed to promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people overseas. This small gesture is a symbol of the British Embassy’s commitment to equality and acceptance for all. This weekend’s Pride March will be a celebration of diversity in Poland, Europe and beyond. I particularly hope participants travelling from the UK will enjoy the festivities.”

Last month the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed its commitment to engage with foreign governments about the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It issued an ‘LGBT Toolkit’ to its 261 Embassies, High Commissions and other diplomatic posts. The kit contains information on the official British policy on gay rights and instructions in how to “provide added value to equality and non-discrimination work.” It covers a wide range of issues, from decriminalisation, sexual health, reproductive rights and health education to bilateral work with other countries. The document states that LGBT activists are often targets for persecution and that the FCO should ensure these people are “included among human rights defenders concerning whom the UK will lobby and will engage the support of other governments, especially EU members.”

Robert Biedron

Riga Pride 2008 “Diversity Unifies”

This year the Friendship Days event will take place from May 30 until June 1.  The march will take place on May 31.  In addition to the march, the programme of events is to discuss a political discussion about diversity and competitiveness, an LGBT film screening, an art exhibition, and a rainbow ball.  At this time, 100 employees of the international human rights organisation Amnesty International from various countries have confirmed their participation.  Other foreign guests are also expected.

“We are sure that this year the Friendship Days event will be more successful than in previous years, because our range of supporters has expanded from year to year, and increasing numbers of people are prepared to demand equal rights for all of Latvia’s residents,” says Mozaika board chairwoman Linda Freimane.

Kristine Garina, organiser of the Friendship Days event and a member of the Mozaika board:  “I very much hope that this year, like last year, we will not have any problem in organising the march.  We hope for good co-operation with the police, and we hope that aggressive groups and members of sects will have come to understand that there is no point to their protests.”

This is the third year that the LGBT organisation Mozaika is organising Friendship Days.  In 2006 the City Council banned the march.  Mozaika appealed the decision, and on November 15, 2007, the Department of Administrative Cases of the Latvian Supreme Court Senate found that the Council’s decision was unlawful.  Last summer the Friendship Days march took place in the Vermanes Garden park in Riga, and some 700 people took part.

For more information: http://www.mozaika.lv

Queer Easter 2008 starts on March, 17th

Hereby we would like to invite you to the upcoming ‘Queer Easter 2008 – Education for Diversity and Inclusion’. This non-formal educational seminar is going to take place from 17.-24.03.2008 in Werftpfuhl/ Germany. The seminar is organized in cooperation with the educational centre Kurt-Loewenstein of the Socialist Youth of Germany – Die Falken, ECOSY, IFM-SEI and IUSY.

Participants of Queer Easter 2007

Participants of Queer Easter 2007

Education plays an important part in socialising, for us as individuals, as well as for society as a whole. Therefore Queer Easter seminar will examine how lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans issues are affecting education and those in education. Questions such as how to raise the issue of homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism in education will be tackled as well as curriculum development on LGBT issues debated, to give only some examples.

Furthermore, taking education as a socialising process, the seminar will take on the challenge to develop skills and materials for educating towards more diversity and for genuine inclusion of LGBT people into society.

Programme

The topic of the seminar will be explored through a variety of workshops, discussion rounds and working groups. Besides those, Queer Easter will also offer the opportunity to learn more about LGBT situations in other countries, and there will be provide 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. The final program will be sent out three weeks before the seminar starts. Together with the final program 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 9th Queer Easter Seminar is going to take place from 17th to 24th of March 2008.

Venue

The venue and accommodation will be at the Educational Centre Kurt Loewenstein in Werftpfuhl (30 km away from 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.

Registration

Registration for the Seminar is possible via the ECOSY website:

http://www.ecosy.org/Queer_Easter_2008_application.258.0.html

Registration Deadline is 01.03.2008. We are asking every participant from your organisation to register separately in order to let them fill the motivation questions by themselves.

Petition against Homophobia in Russia

After an attack on Member of European Parliament (MEP) Sophie in ‘t Veld, the Jonge Democraten (Young Democrats of the Netherlands) decided to start an online petition against homophobia in Russia (and the EU!).

During a demonstration in Moscow, in ‘t Veld and her bystanders were attacked by a Nazi carrying a knife. During the demonstration, organizers were arrested as well as some MEP. The police did nothing against the perpetrators.

Stop hate crime, start human rights!

Sign the petition at: http://www.jongedemocraten.nl/petition