Five Maltese Representatives from MGRM, We Are and Drachma Parents' Group participated in the 15th ILGA-Europe Annual Conference held in Turin between 27 and 30 October 2011.
This was attended by 343 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) activists, European and national politicians, representatives of other organisations from 43 countries making it the largest annual event on LGBTI rights in Europe. Dr Mark Grech participated in the European Network meeting that preceded the conference. Gabi Calleja was elected as one of the Co-Chairs of ILGA-Europe's Executive Board while Ruth Baldacchino continues as the European representative on the World Board.
The Conference explored the theme Human Rights and 'Traditional Values': Clash or Dialogue? Other issues were debated in a number of panel discussions, workshops and self-organised groups. The rhetoric questioning the compatibility of human rights and so-called traditional values happens all too often in our work at local, national, European and global levels. The conference explored what traditional values are, whether they are in conflict with human rights of LGBTI people, and what the LGBTI movement's strategy should be with regard to the rise of social conservatism in Europe. As this year ILGA-Europe celebrates its 15th anniversary, the Conference reflected on the history of the European LGBTI movement and the challenges ahead.
Key note speeches were delivered by Emma Bonino, Deputy Speaker of the Italian Senate, George Tugushi, the Georgian Ombudsman, as well as the two newly elected Polish MP’s Robert Biedron and Anna Grodzka.
The Annual Conference adopted a declaration regarding the situation in Northern Cyprus which remains the only territory in Europe where consensual sexual acts between adult men are still criminalised.
This year’s Annual Conference received a support message from Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Republic ofItaly, and enjoyed the patronage of the Italian Senate, Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, Minister of Equal Opportunities, the Municipality of Turin, the province of Turin and Esperienza Italia 150º.
The conference was organised in cooperation with the Organising Committee of the 15th ILGA-Europe’s Annual Conference inTurin. Next year’s ILGA-Europe Annual Conference will take place in October 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.
Joseanne Peregin from the Drachma Parents' Group, said: “The Drachma Parents' Group has been engaged in fostering dialogue among young LGBTs and their parents by providing monthly meetings for parents to support them in their acceptance process while discerning together, the position of the Catholic Church with respect to LGBT rights. The Conference provided networking opportunities to build stronger ties with other countries facing similar issues”. Joseanne was part of a workshop panel organised by the European Christian Forum that focused on Christian values and the necessity of building bridges with the local churches.
Luisa Tolu, from the University LGBT group We Are said: “This was the first time I attended an ILGA-Europe conference and I feel that it was a great opportunity to build networks and learn from the many experienced activists and politicians present. Some workshops served as input for possible projects We Are could conduct in the future and meeting activists who have contributed to the growth and history of the LGBTI movement since the 1970s was definitely inspiring.”