Delegates of ILGA-Europe annual conference experience first-hand discrimination and resistance in Vilnius
... but are united and determined to work together for Europe of equality and respect
On 25-28 October 2007, almost 200 delegates from all over Europe gathered in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius for the 11th ILGA-Europe's Annual Conference. While the public event to display rainbow flag during the conference was banned by the Mayor of Vilnius and there was a demonstration against the conference, the delegates are determined to fight prejudice, discrimination and injustice.
During 5 plenary sessions, 2 discussion panels, 21 workshops and a series of self-organised groups, the delegates had a chance to listen, have discussions and engage with prominent international, European and national experts on equality and human rights. This year's conference programme provided a diverse agenda and covered a whole range of issues from the work at the UN and European level to organisational development challenges in evolving LGBT groups. The programme was designed in a way to ensure that the delegate had not just an opportunity to listen but to actively engage and participate in all discussions. As usual the conference had two capacity building practical workshops, on developing advocacy strategies and using video in monitoring human rights abuses.ILGA-Europe's annual conference is also its annual general meeting and the delegates approved Strategic Plan for 2008-2011 and elected a new Executive Board for 2007-2008:
1. Pierre Serne (France)
2. Renato Sabbadini (Italy)
3. Lisette Kampus (Estonia)
4. Ruth Baldacchino (Malta)
5. Chrsitine Le Doaré (France)
6. Martin Christensen (Denmark)
7. Deborah Lambillotte (Belgium)
8. Linda Freimane (Latvia)
9. Tomasz Szypula (Poland)
10.Natasa Sukic (Slovenia)
The reserve members elected are:
- Paata Sabelashvili (Georgia)
- Irmeli Krans (Sweden)Ruth Baldacchino (Malta) and Janfrans van der Eerden
(Netherlands) were elected as European representatives on ILGA Executive Board.The conference also voted on a venue for the ILGA-Europe's annual conference in 2009 which will be held in Malta.
Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:
"This was a very successful and positive conference. We had great speakers from various international, European and national institutions. The EU officials delivered great news that the European Commission included in its next year's legislative action plan a proposal for a directive which will address the hierarchy of EU anti-discrimination laws and will introduce a ban on discrimination because of sexual orientation in areas other than employment.
We heard from various national officials about their work and commitments towards equality and human rights for LGBT issues. We also held a European launch of the Yogyakarta Principles, a groundbreaking international document, giving the human rights issues for LGBT people a new perspective and impetus at universal level.
At the same time we also learned that getting new EU protections will not be easy and cannot take the Commission promise for granted. We also first handed witnessed and experienced the ugly face of hatred and violence. The smoke bomb explosion at a club next to the conference venue and where many delegates socialised on the first night of the conference, the ban of public event by the Mayor of Vilnius and a demonstration protesting against the conference served as reminder that hatred, violence and prejudice is alive and well in Europe. These events also caused considerable media coverage in Lithuania and all Europe.
Fortunately no delegate was hurt and we believe the smoke bomb attack was not targeted at the conference and its delegates. However such uncivilised and dangerous methods in parallel with an open disregard of the basic human right to expression and assembly by the Mayor of Vilnius make us only more determined to work even with greater determination towards Europe equality, respect and happiness for each person."
For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 496 708 375
Notes for editors:
(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org
(2) The Annual Conference is hosted by Lithuanian Gay League
(3) Please visit our conference page
for all the news, daily updates, reports and images from the conference.