Prominent LGBT activists from Eastern Europe gather in Oslo for EuroPride. Photo: Amnesty International/Patricia Katee
Celebrating IDAHOT, LLH – The Norwegian LGBT Organisation, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsingfors Committee take the occasion to launch an initiative to bring prominent LGBT activists from Eastern Europe together at EuroPride 2014 in Oslo, Norway.
Uniting against the homophobic backlash in Eastern Europe, prominent LGBT activist from six countries will meet and develop common strategies at Pride House during EuroPride 2014 in Oslo, brought together by LLH – the Norwegian LGBT Organisation, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
“Our three organisations want to support Eastern European LGBT activists to meet and develop common strategies. We also want to learn how we in the West may stand in solidarity with the East in the struggle for human rights for all”, says Bård Nylund, leader of the Norwegian LGBT Organisation, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).
During the EuroPride celebrations in Oslo, from June 20th to June 29th, human rights activists from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania and Latvia gather in Oslo to discuss common strategies and mutual learning.
“When the conservative forces opposing the fundamental human rights of sexual and gender minorities unite and cooperate across borders, human rights activists must respond with an even greater capacity to build alliances”, says John Peder Egenæs, Director of Amnesty International Norway.
Human rights and the freedom of expression
Human rights and the freedom of expression in Eastern Europe are affected by a number of new laws that impact LGBT persons: anti-propaganda legislation, blasphemy laws, foreign agent laws and laws designed to “protect” children and youth. For Eastern European nationalists, homosexuality has come to symbolise the West.
“It seems like Eastern and Western European countries are competing for the right to define whether the rights of sexual minorities are compatible with so-called ´traditional and family values´”, says General Secretary Bjørn Engesland of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and goes on. “By denying LGBT people their human rights, policymakers and extremist groups claim to protect the family and the nation from the ´West¨”.
The Eastern European LGBT activists will also participate in a series of public seminars for the benefit of the EuroPride participants and the general public during the ten day long festival.
“There is a great concern about the backlash against human rights in Eastern Europe, but few are aware of how human rights activists work to counter harmful legislation and promote acceptance,” Nylund concludes.