LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey
REGISTRATIONS TO ATTEND ERA CONFERENCE 2019 IN TIRANA, ALBANIA ARE NOW OPEN
We are now developing the agenda of the conference. Come back soon for more updates.
Since its establishment in 2015, ERA has held itsannual regional conference in one of the capital cities of the Western Balkans region. The conference is attended by more than 160 representatives of LGBTI organisations, governments and other state institutions, members of Parliament, equality bodies, international community, researchers, media, activists and allies of the community.
The regional conference to be held in Tirana on 6-9 November 2019 will provide opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, deeper dialogue and closer cooperation between stakeholders.
Recent developments around Europe and our region reveal that LGBTI rights are either in stagnation or regress. Such trends are very important for the Western Balkans and Turkey region considering how most countries are in process of European Union integration and other deep state and institutional reforms. Some of the main challenges the LGBTI community still faces in our region are lack of implementation of laws and policies, lack of legislation pertaining to gender identity, lack of protection from discrimination for intersex persons, low visibility of the LGBTI community and persistent negative attitudes which often translate into hate speech, harassment and physical violence, high vulnerability of LGBTI persons in smaller communities and with lower income, multiple forms of discrimination for many members of society etc.
This conference will aim to address those issues, as well as those relating to the needs and challenges of trans and intersex communities, LBTQI+ women, the recent HIV epidemic among GMT persons, sustainability of the LGBTI movements, needs and issues of rainbow families in the Balkans etc.
While legal rights of LGBTI persons in Albania have improved to some degree in the last 10 years, still they are far from complete. Same-sex couples have no legal rights whatsoever and trans citizens cannot legally change their gender. In fact, with the exception of legal protection from discrimination on grounds of gender identity, trans persons are completely invisible in Albanian law. Protection from discrimination based on sex characteristics is not provided either. Public attitudes towards LGBTI persons are still negative, and acceptance of LGBTI persons remains low. The current government let by the Socialist Party has been criticized for completely ignoring LGBTI rights as no significant change in law and policy has taken place in the last six years. A National LGBT Action Plan 2016-2020 has not been implemented sufficiently and in 2018 a public debate against LGBTI lectures in high schools took place which forced the government to become even more withdrawn on LGBTI rights.
Meanwhile, regular reports from the LGBTI movement in the country reveal a challenging and problematic situation for the community against what is perceived as poor performance by state institutions and service providers to do their job.
LGBTI organisations have significantly increased their efforts to serve the community with their most basic needs including legal aid, health services, psycho-social support, shelter etc. A lot more efforts have been made in empowering the community and the movement as well as increase awareness among the general public. Alliances and cooperation with the rest of civil society have also created some leverage for the many needs both community and movement has.
This reality makes it clear that the government and state institutions need to stop hiding behind action plans and sporadic statements of support and work effectively with LGBTI organisations and other stakeholders in order to set clear and tangible goals that can be achieved in the next few years that could significantly improve the legal and social status of LGBTI persons.
Tirana, the capital of Albania, is home to approximately 800.000 citizens and is home to a growing and vibrant LGBTI community. All LGBTI organisations are based in the capital and unfortunately no organisations operate on this topic outside of the capital. This is a huge challenge when it comes to understanding and tackling the needs and issues of the LGBTI community in many other cities as well as smaller settlements where LGBTI people live in complete hiding and invisibility. Tirana does not have any official LGBTI bars, clubs or venues but several venues are known to be “LGBTI friendly”. Organisations hold regular LGBTI parties and events and the community is always in need for more events and activities. LGBTI cultural and social events are very common in the last 10 years, especially in Tirana and the media is generally open to the LGBTI subject providing a great opportunity for the organisations to advocate and raise awareness.
The ERA conference in Tirana will be hosted in close cooperation and partnership with our members there. See more about our co-hosts and partners below.
5-6 November Strategic and coordinating meeting of trans and intersex activists in the Western Balkans and Turkey: This strategic meeting will be led by trans and intersex members of ERA’s steering board and activists from the region. Main aims are to empower trans and intersex youth and grassroots activists from the region, address well-being of trans and intersex activists and communities, define local, national, regional and international trans and intersex related priorities, including how to best align the work of ERA with that of its members and finally to define fundraising challenges, priorities and actions for the trans and intersex movements in the region.
6 November: Women loving Women” Caucus meeting: This caucus meeting is organized and will be led by women who love women. The main aim of this caucus is to map the existing gaps in LBTIQ+ politics, specific fundraising challenges, visibility and representation, to define what needsto change for LBTIQ+ women to be empowered and how women who love women can take more common actions within the ERA region and createsynergieswith other movements and networks across the wider European region.
6 November Exhibition: “Trans Balkan”: Aleksandar Crnogorac brings to Tirana, his exhibition “Trans Balkan”. Through a series of documentary photographs, the artist aims to raise the visibility of trans people in the Western Balkans region. Next to every portrait is a biography of each individual with a personal quote, which gives an insight into the struggles trans people have to overcome and the discrimination and stigmatisation they have to face every day. The exhibition, is an opportunity for trans people to speak their mind and emphasize the importance of understanding problems they have to deal with.
ERA Annual General Assembly: The Annual General Assembly, is one of the key annual events of the association where the most important issues and topics are discussed and decided. The General Assembly is a venue of true political and democratic engagement and participation of activists from 9 countries of the ERA region. The assembly is also attended by members of the Advisory Board which is made of approximately 20 individuals from across the world who provide very valuable inputs and help to the association. This year, 2/3 of the day will be organized in the form of workshops in order to discuss several issues concerning the region.
8 November Sustainability of LGBTI+ movement in the Western Balkans and Turkey: LGBTI organisations in the Western Balkans and Turkey are dependent on classical resources of funding: primarily Western governments and foundations. This funding, while in principle open to everyone, is conditioned by the capacities of organisations to absorb such funding. The funding is also dependent on general trends, such as the policies of specific donors in one country or the region overall. Many other factors come into play: today there are more organisations operating in most countries than before, the needs have become more complex and diversified, the issues to address as well. This day will be dedicated to the sustainability of the movement and will include dialogue with donors operating in the region, presentation of the findings of regional assessment, workshops on alternative and individual fundraising, engaging with the business community, encouraging LGBTI businesses etc.
Launching of Standards of Conduct for Businesses: UN Albania will join ERA in this conference with a special side-event which will serve to launch in Albanian language the Standards of Conduct for Businesses “Tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people”. The Standards were first launched in Serbia back in 2018, being the first country in Eastern Europe to do so and to have them translated into a local language. The Standards are expected to be endorsed by companies operating in Albania which promised to open the door for local LGBTI organisations to engage more actively with the business sector in the country.
9 November Open Space Technology and other pre-organised sessions: The last day of the conference will be a series of panels, workshops and self-organized spaces through open space technology. Some of the sessions to take place on this day are:
The ERA conference will take place at Tirana International Hotel and Conference Centre.
The ERA Annual General Assembly will take place at the National Assembly of Albania Parliament Offices, Boulevard “Deshmoret e Kombit” 1019, Tirana
TRAVEL & REIMBURSEMENT
For all participants whose travel costs are being covered by ERA, and who are arriving and leaving Tiranaby plane, pick up has been arranged with local taxi company. Someone will be waiting for you at the arrivals lounge.
Please be informed that we are not arranging pick up and return to the airportfor participants whose travel costs are not covered by us.
For all other participants coming to Tiranaby public transport or private vehicles whose travel costs are covered by ERA please keep in mind the following information:
- ERA will cover costs of public transport (bus, train etc.);
- ERA will cover cost of travel by personal vehicle to Skopje and return (reimbursement ofcosts by car is 0.10 EUR per kilometer ViaMichelin- Toll costs are not included in this amount);
- ERA will NOT cover other forms of travel arrangements such as taxi, rent a car, trips made in first class etc.
Please be kindly reminded that you are responsible for your own travel insurance.
For further reference please find in attachment ERA’s travel reimbursement policy.
Getting around Tirana
Whenever you need a ride somewhere, please ask the hotel reception or someone from our staff to call a taxi for you.
Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in the conferences main halland other smaller rooms in Turkish and English;
For all your social media posts, statuses, pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. please use the following hashtags: #ERACon2019and #LGBTIAlbania
For security reasons please make sure you ask permission of others before posting their pictures or names on your social media.
Local currency is the Albanian Lek (ALL). Exchange offices are available all around the city. Please make sure that exchange office does not take commission and that you ask for receipt.
The ERA Annual Conference is being organized by ERA, in partnership with its member organisations in Albania Alliance against Discrimination LGBT, LGBT Shelter “Streha”, Open Minded Spectrum Albania, PINK Embass, United PRO LGBT Causeand AAPLWH
The ERA Annual Conference is financially supported by the European Commission, the Western Balkans Fund, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania, Open Society Foundation and Give Out UK