LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey
ERA ONLINE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
The change is inevitable. Full equality now!
Towards a Sustainable and Resilient LGBTIQ+ movement in the Western Balkans and Turkey
ERA’s Annual Conference is a significant annual event in our networks’ efforts to promote the advancement and protection of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people in the Western Balkans and Turkey (WB&T) region. Since our founding in September 2015 our membership has grown from 25 to 75 LGBTIQ+ organisations, thus becoming one of the biggest networks in the whole European region. Our membership is not the only change we have seen these last six years, however. Many positives and negatives have shaped who we are today. Of historical significance are events like the passing of same-sex partnership legislation in Montenegro, the amendments to the anti-discrimination legislation in several countries, adding characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender identity and even sex characteristics as protected grounds, or the successful holding of first ever Pride marches in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, to name but a few. Other changes have not been as positive. The most striking of them is the deterioration of democracy and human rights in Turkey and the increasingly open hostility of the government against the LGBTIQ+ community. The Western Balkans are also far behind compared to the aspirations and expectations of 2015. Stagnation is the word in some cases and slow progress in others. The Covid-19 pandemic, in the meantime, showed once again how fragile and vulnerable our collective existence is. The pandemic forced us all back to “our roots'', it almost erased our mobility and collective spaces and significantly hampered our activism and mobilization. For many others it meant a return to unfriendly towns and family homes, awakening old wounds and traumas. In a short time span, our digital presence (which until March 2020 was elective) became almost the sole way of connectivity and activism. The community now has even fewer bars, collective spaces and venues where to gather, and when and where they are available it is a big happening and privilege. Community leaders and organizers are burned out and everyone is still copying with “the new normal”. The LGBTIQ+ movement across the region - just as in the whole rest of the world - is facing old and brand new struggles, all at the same time.
This is why, our conference theme this year is RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY. Our community did not look away from these challenges. Organisations and activists across the region quickly mobilized to provide essential services and found countless creative ways to mobilise, advocate, campaign and remain visible. Our community is an active and unbreakable part of society and we most surely did not stay aside. The big questions remain however: What does our future look like? How will we ensure that our human rights, freedoms and dignity are protected as the world faces even greater challenges? How will our cause face the challenges of the next decade: increased authoritarianism, a stronger anti-gender movement and climate change to name but a few. Our future, just as that of the world, is not always clear. However, hasn't this been the case in almost every chapter of human history? So instead of taking this as a discouraging setback, we can all think of it as an opportunity for evolution, growth and a potential change for the better. We are all looking forward to this annual meeting so our collective creative force can once again help us shape our future. We look forward to seeing you all on 19 October starting from 11:00 am.
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A fully detailed agenda will be sent to you within the next 10 days
Day 1, Tuesday, 19 October
11:00 - 12:30 Sustainability and resilience of the LGBTI movement in the Western Balkans and Turkey
14:00 - 16:00 Thematic meeting on sustainability and resilience of the LGBTI movement in the Western Balkans and Turkey (closed event: for ERA members only)
Day 2, Wednesday, 20 October
11:00 - 12:30 The changing reality of Rainbow Families in the Western Balkans and Turkey
14:00 - 16:00 Thematic Meeting on Access to Services (closed event: for ERA members only)
Day 3, Thursday, 21 October
10.30 - 11.10 Official Launch of the “YOU ARE HEARD” Platform for reporting hate crimes and other incidents of hate in the Western Balkans and Turkey
11:20 - 13:00 Panel on Access to Justice
14:00 - 16:00 Thematic meeting on Access to Justice (closed event: for ERA members only)
Day 4, Friday 22 October
11:00 - 12:30 Responding to the anti-gender movement in the Western Balkans and Turkey
14:00 - 16:00 Thematic Meeting on Anti-gender Movement (closed event: for ERA members only)
Day 5, Wednesday 27 October
11:00 - 13:00 Regional Round Table Discussion: Enabling Environment for sustainable and resilient LGBTI Movement (closed event: for ERA members only)
Day 6, Thursday 28 October
11:00 - 13:00 Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Meeting: Enabling Environment for sustainable and resilient LGBTI Movement