The Group of the Party of European Socialists (PES Group) in the Committee of the Regions (CoR), in cooperation with Rainbow Rose is organising a seminar entitled "I am what I am: Promoting LGBTI rights in the EU".
The seminar, aims to raise awareness about striking divergences in the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in different EU Member States. It will foster the exchange of best practices at local and regional level in terms of LGBTI-friendly measures and will discuss their contribution towards effectively fighting discrimination against LGBTI people and taking forward social progress.
Equality is one of the founding values of the EU and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is prohibited. However, we are a long way away from equal treatment throughout the EU of LGBTI people, who still face multiple forms of discrimination.
Despite considerable advances in some EU Member States, social equality for LGBTI people remains an unattained goal. For example, the absence of equal civil recognition of same-sex relationships deprives them of a whole range of derived civil rights, such as rights to parenting and adoption as well as of social security and fiscal rights. At the same time, it limits access to public services such as social housing or health services.
Although equality of civil rights is a matter addressed at national level, the delivery of related services is dealt with at local and regional level, and this is where progressive politicians can make a difference. The same holds true when it comes to breaking stereotypes about LGBTI people through education and fighting hate crime. This is essential for changing regressive mindsets and promoting social inclusion.
Catiuscia Marini is President of the Umbria Region, Italy. From 1997 to 2007, she served as Major of Todi and was President of the Bureau of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) from 2004 to 2007. From 2008 to 2009, she was a Member of the European Parliament, following the works of the Committee of Internal Market and Consumer Protection. Catiuscia Marini has been a CoR member since June 2010, following her election as President of the Region of Umbria in March 2010. She was re-elected for a second term of office to the presidency of the Region in May 2015. In February 2015, she was elected President of the PES Group in the CoR. From October 2011 until June 2014, she was the Group's First Vice-President with responsibility for cohesion policy in the context of the EU's financial perspectives post-2013. From June 2014 until February 2015, she held the position of First Vice-President of the CoR.
Aurélien Mazuy has been President of Rainbow Rose (LGBT Network of PES) since November 2013 (re-elected in November 2015 for two years), and he is also a board member dealing with European Affairs within Homosexualité et Socialisme (HES), the French LGBT Socialist Group. He is an active member of the Brussels branch of the French Socialist Party.
Aurélien has been working for five years on European affairs (EU governance and politics, health, economics, trade, environment) for public and private interests in Brussels, including a French regional office representation. He is currently working as Policy Adviser on European Affairs in a Diplomatic Mission to the EU. Aurélien holds Master's degrees in Political Sciences and European Affairs from Sciences Po Toulouse (Master's thesis on LGBT lobbying in Brussels) and the College of Europe (Master's thesis on the relations between the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament on the future of cohesion policy).
Dr Helena Dalli is the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta. She was elected to the Maltese Parliament for the first time in 1996 and served as Parliamentary Secretary for gender equality in the Office of the Prime Minister. Dr Dalli was re-elected to Parliament in all subsequent national elections. When in opposition, she served as shadow minister for public administration, public investment and gender equality. Following a change in government in March 2013, Dr Dalli was appointed Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties. She championed equality legislation, including a Civil Unions Act and a Gender Identity Act. She is currently in the process of introducing a Cohabitation Bill and the setting-up of a Human Rights Commission in line with the Paris Principles. Dr Dalli is a sociologist by profession and lectures in the areas of sociology of law, economic sociology and public policy.
Daniele Viotti is member of the European Parliament, elected in 2014, and he sits in the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs as a full and as a substitute member respectively. He is Co-President of the EP's Intergroup on LGBT Rights. A civil rights campaigner, he helped found in Turin the association "Quore", dedicated to the promotion of the LGBT community and the fight against homophobia. Daniele began his political career as a City Councilor in his hometown, Alessandria, in the ranks of Democratici di Sinistra (DS), a precursor of the Democratic Party (PD). He has joined the PD since its creation in 2007, focusing his efforts on the enhancement of the concept of equality.
Kevin Peel first became active in politics through LGBT Labour, the Labour Party's LGBTI campaign group. He has served on the board for a number of years and is currently the International Officer. Kevin was elected as the first ever Labour and Co-operative councillor for the city centre of Manchester in May 2011 and was re-elected to this position in 2015. He serves as a Deputy Chair of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, responsible for waste disposal and recycling services for over 2 million households. Kevin is a local Magistrate and sits in the board of a local youth charity which provides social action and volunteering opportunities for disadvantaged young people across Greater Manchester. He has held national positions in the Labour and Co-operative movements and in addition to his role with LGBT Labour he currently sits on the national executive of Labour Movement for Europe. He was appointed to the Committee of the Regions in January 2015.
Jose María Núñez Blanco is a Lecturer at the University of Extremadura, teaching Financial Economics and Accounting. He was Deputy Director of the Office of International Cooperation at the University of Extremadura from 2002 to 2008. Jose María promoted the creation in 1995 of the NGO “De Par en Par”, Extremadura's first LGBT social organisation. He is a founding member of "Triangle Foundation Extremadura" and has been its President since its creation, in 1996. He has been President of Triangle Foundation at national level since 2013, of which he was its Vice-President since 1998. Jose María is a committed LGBT activist and the driving force behind numerous social and cultural LGBT projects including the LGBT Plural Service of Extremadura, the programme of LGBT-friendly tourism in Extremadura and “FanCineGay”, Extremadura's LGBT Film Festival. He has promoted and coordinated several LGBT-related educational activities and is the author of numerous LGBT editing materials as well as articles in magazines and media on LGBT reality and local, regional and national rights. He was the editor of the Extremadura LGBTI Act adopted on March 19, 2015.
Peter Bossman was first elected Mayor of Piran, a city and municipality in Slovenian Istria in south-western Slovenia, in 2010 and re-elected for a second term in October 2014. He is a member of Slovenia's centre-left Social Democrats and has been a member of the Committee of the Regions since 2011. Born in Accra, the capital of Ghana, he was forced to leave the country following a 1966 coup and was ultimately sent to Ljubljana, where he studied medicine. He later settled in Piran, becoming Slovenia's first black mayor.
Juul van Hoof is the programme manager on LGBT issues at MOVISIE, the Netherlands Centre for Social Development.
She advises and supports local authorities in developing and implementing LGBT-inclusive policies. Advising policy makers and NGOs, building local coalitions and strengthening gay & straight alliances on a local level are important aspects of her work. She has worked in the LGBT field since 2002, mainly in projects on the intersectionality of identities (LGBT and ethnicity, disability, age and religion, e.g.) and (local) LGBT policies.
Juul van Hoof is currently the project manager of a project which focuses on LGBT policies within 42 Dutch municipalities, funded by the Dutch government. Moreover, she is the founder and coordinator of the Rainbow Cities Network, a network of 25 international cities with an active and explicit LGBT policy. In 2015, she contributed to a report by the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities on “Guaranteeing LGBT people’s rights: a responsibility for Europe’s towns and regions”.
D. Phil. María Estébanez is a legal expert responsible for the coordination of policy files and acts as the focal point for the Agency’s relations with the OSCE. Her areas of expertise include: the development of rights-based indicators; issues of equality, in particular LGBTI; the rights of the child, including in the field of asylum. She previously worked as legal officer and consultant for the OSCE, as consultant for the Council of Europe and several civil society organisations and in academia, when she authored/co-authored books and other publications on minority protection in Europe, various aspects of human rights protection, and the OSCE’s legal status.
Ksenija Joksimovic is a Board Member of IGLYO, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth and Student Organisation. She is a postgraduate psychodrama psychotherapy student, queer feminist and activist from Belgrade, Serbia. She holds a Bachelor degree in Andragogy (Adult education) and is an experienced youth worker and trainer. She has been mostly working with high school and university students, as well as adults and also has experience working with children who work and/or live on the streets. Ksenija is member of ALTERO, a Serbian association for personal training, education, development and empowerment, and she actively participates in its work, especially using forum theatre techniques to tackle LGBTIQ issues and multiple forms of oppression.
Liliana Rodrigues is a Member of the European Parliament, elected in 2014 and sits in the EP's Committee on Regional Development (REGI) and Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). She is also a substitute member in the Committee on Culture and Education and in the Subcommittee on Human Rights. Moreover, she is a member of the EP Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean, and a substitute in the Delegation for relations with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Liliana Rodrigues holds a PhD in Education from the University of Madeira (UMa), Portugal, and she is a Professor and Researcher at the same university, where she has held several management positions, including that of Director of the Education Sciences Course. She has been President of the "LI-M - Ideas Laboratory of Madeira" since 2011. Her areas of work as MEP are regional development, gender equality and culture and education.
Elly Barnes was voted No 1 in The Independent on Sunday's Pink List 2011 for her commitment to LGBT+ in education and awarded a highly commended by the TES Teacher of the Year 2012. Elly is the CEO and Founder of ‘Educate & Celebrate’, a Best Practice Progamme that transforms schools and organisations into LGBT+Friendly places. She is also commissioned by Birmingham City Council and Durham County Council to create best practice schools and is a regular speaker and writer on LGBT+ issues.
As a long serving teacher, Elly developed her Best Practice Programme from her own experiences of finding the most effective strategies to educate and change opinion. She holds a degree in Music, a Post Graduate Certificate of Education, a Diploma in Music Technology and a Masters in LGBT+ Inclusion in education.
The approaches used in Educate & Celebrate have been recognised by Ofsted as best practice for taking a whole-school approach to tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and ingrained attitudes in our schools describing it as ‘visionary and innovative’.
She says ‘together, we can create cohesive school communities with people and social justice at its core’.
Elly Barnes was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in June 2016 for her contribution to education, equality and diversity
Giorgio dell'Amico is the national coordinator for immigration and asylum of Arcigay, the Italian association for LGBTI rights. He has been a councillor for twenty years and works as an educator for the Caleidos social cooperative at the municipality of Modena's centre for foreigners.
In the course of his work as an educator over the years he has been active in a variety of settings, including prostitution, and is now working on a project on preventive health care and refugees. Racial discrimination, political and religious persecution, hunger, war and climate disasters are not the only reasons why people are forced to leave their countries: people also flee because they are LGBTI.
Giorgio was responsible for one of the first European projects run by Arcigay on multiple discrimination - the combination of being gay and disabled, for example, or gay and a migrant. In 2007 he coordinated a project to identify and tackle discrimination within communities, such as discrimination against gays by fellow compatriots within a migrant community, or against migrants within a gay community. On the strength of this experience, Giorgio has contributed to a European research project on people requesting asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Photo: © Dante Farricella
Katrin is in charge of the overall coordination of the policy and advocacy work of ILGA-Europe. Katrin’s tasks include managing the policy team and as well as leading the advocacy work of ILGA-Europe towards the EU institutions, EU Presidencies, the Council of Europe and the OSCE. The main focus of her studies and work life has been antidiscrimination policies and feminist politics, as well as European social and labour market policies.
Catiuscia Marini, President of the CoR PES Group
Aurélien Mazuy, President of Rainbow Rose
Helena Dalli, Malta's Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties
Daniele Viotti, Member of the European Parliament (S&D Group, Italy), CoPresident of the EP's Intergroup on LGBT Rights
Chair: Kevin Peel, CoR PES Group Member, Member of Manchester City Council, UK
Jose María Núñez Blanco, LGBTI Activist and Lecturer at the University of Extremadura, Spain
Peter Bossman, CoR PES Group Member, Mayor of Piran, Slovenia
Juul van Hoof, Founder and Coordinator of the Rainbow Cities Network
María Estébanez, Senior Policy Manager, Department of Equality and Citizens’ Rights, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
Chair: Ksenija Joksimovic, Member of the Board of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO)
Liliana Rodrigues, Member of the European Parliament (S&D Group, Portugal)
Elly Barnes, CEO and Founder of "Educate & Celebrate"
Giorgio Dell'Amico, Spokesperson on migration and asylum for Arcigay (Italy)
Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director ofILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)