■ Deborah Lambillotte and Riccardo
Gottardi, co-chairs of ILGA-Europe's Executive Board, open the
photo courtesy ILGA-Europe
VILNIUS, October 25, 2007 –
Senior officials of the International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe
today slammed both the Vilnius city authorities and a local court for
banning a public “rainbow flag” event in the city during the association’s
annul conference, calling the situation “outrageous”.
Deborah Lambillotte and Riccardo
Gottardi, co-chairs of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board told conference
delegates this morning at the opening session that the decision “is in
breach of the European Convention of Human Rights”.
“The local authorities have
forbidden a public event, not a march, just a simple rainbow flag event,
that Lithuanian Gay League was organizing during our conference,” they told
the conference in a joint opening speech.
“In Poland, last year, they
experienced the very same situation,” they pointed out. “Polish
organisations went to courts and all the way up to the European Court of
Human Rights, that ruled that their human rights had been violated and that
public authorities should not have forbidden their events.
“Lithuanian Gay League also went to
court in Lithuania and yesterday was [told] by the court that still they
cannot have the rainbow flag event.
“Given the ruling by the European
Court of Human Rights, this is just outrageous and LGL has appealed against
this court decision and has all of our support.”
They said that the law in many
countries has continued to be broken.
“Freedom of assembly and freedom of
speech have been attacked throughout our continent. Even though the these
rights are at the basis of the European Convention of Human Rights, member
states of the Council of Europe have repeatedly ignored them.
“Pride marches have been forbidden,
again this year again. Pride marches have been attacked – in Budapest, in
Zagreb, here in the Baltics, in Moscow – and the governments have not been
capable or willing to guarantee the safety of the marchers.”
Ms. Lambillotte and Mr. Gottardi
pointed out that in the coming year ILGA-Europe will have to work more
closely with The Council of Europe to make full use of what is already in
place and to strongly push for the member states of the Council of Europe to
live up to their human rights commitments.
“But we have now also two new human
rights instruments to use,” they continued.
“The first one is the Yogyakarta
principles [principles that have been put together by a very high level
international panel of experts in international human rights law and sexual
orientation and gender identity].
“These provide us with strong
arguments for lobbying and advocacy on a wide range of issues from freedom
of expression to family.
“The second one is our newly
achieved consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the
United Nations. We are very proud that, together with several other
organisations, we are now able to make our voices heard, once again and in
our own name, at the United Nations.
“Such work will also open us new
opportunities to promote human rights for LGBT people in Europe and to
support the worldwide struggle for equality.”
Turning to the European Union, they
said that there is some positive news coming from Brussels.
“There is a proposal, eventually,
for a new antidiscrimination directive to go beyond employment and that
would cover all grounds of discriminations.
“Later on at this conference, this
proposal will be presented to you by Belinda Pike, Director of Equality in
DG Employment. This is a very important step.
“Today, in EU law, there is
hierarchy of rights – some grounds of discrimination have more protections,
while others have less.
“We have always considered that a
single comprehensive anti-discrimination directive, covering grounds of age,
disability, religion and belief, race or ethnic origin, gender, as well as
sexual orientation would be a more effective way of addressing multiple
discrimination and ensuring that all grounds of discrimination are treated
“We have found much opposition by
our adversaries and sometimes also from our allies,” they said.
The third institution that ILGA-Europe
continues to work with the OSCE.
“The OSCE will offer us a number of
opportunities, in particular to address hate crimes and hate speeches. We
have to use to both the EU and the OSCE mechanisms to fight against hate
crimes and hate speeches.
“No country in fact is free from
them. On the contrary, in this past year there has been a significant
increase of violence and attacks, both verbal and physical, throughout
Europe against LGBT people.
“Even countries and cities that are
considered to be friendly – and a good and safe place to live – towards LGBT
people have been the scene for such violent crimes.
“This reminds us not to fall
victims of complacency – we should never think that we have achieved
everything and that we can settled down and our rights are guaranteed.
“It is not only in some parts of
Europe that LGBT people face discrimination and violence – it can effect
every one of us, no matter where we live.”
Ms. Lambillotte and Mr. Gottardi
then turned to religion, and its “right wing”.
“Many of us are concerned about the
growing influence and the growing numbers of the religious right in Europe.
We should be very mindful of that and we should support our brothers and
sisters that suffer because they are members of a church or of a religion
that does not recognise equal dignity to their identities.
“But the integralist religious
movements as well as the extreme right and neo-fascist movement are only the
collector of a widespread social distress.
“Such distress has it roots in the
economic difficulties that are present in many countries and in many social
classes. Furthermore our political leaders have been failing in giving a
sense of perspective and an inspiring idea of the future.
“As a result, there is a wave of
right wing extremism that is running through Europe, some of this uses
instrumentally religious arguments, much of it, is just plain neo-fascism.
“It is clear that European
governments are today less capable of dealing with the extreme right. We
remember very well when, just a few years ago, Jeorg Haider won the
elections in Austria and the strong reaction by the governments of the
“Just a few years afterwards, a
much worst government took power in Poland and there was no reaction – there
was a thunderous silence.
“Luckily for Poland and for all of
Europe, we are today free from at least one of the Kazsjnski brothers.
“But where were the European
institutions in all of this,” they asked?
“Where were the Governments of
“There was – and there still is – a
lack of courage in our leaders. Too many keep forgetting that the social
and human rights dimension is a crucial part of economic development, too
many keep forgetting that there are real lives of people beyond the numbers
of the economy.
“Too many do not stand up for the
values of Europe. And this makes those that do stand up all the more
important. For example the Swedish, Dutch and Danish governments and the
Nordic Council have provided much significant support for this conference.”
For the full joint speech by
Deborah Lambillotte and Riccardo Gottardi, click
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Posted: 25 October 2007 at
14:30 (UK time)