Year 2017 was a turning point for us in many ways – it was the year of the first edition of our Activist Academy, which will become in the following years our flagship capacity building event, we have development our work immensely in the area of advocacy for inclusive education, and amongst other, we have created our new Strategic plan for the next 4 years.
We have continued to build our reputation as the ‘go to’ organisation in Europe for LGBTQI inclusion within education. The LGBTQI Inclusive Education Report, Index, Map & Website are the culmination of over 18 months’ intensive work with our members, partners and experts, and the results provide EU institutions, national governments and civil society organisations with the first comprehensive data on LGBTQI inclusion within state schools for every Council of Europe Member State. We, together with our members, are already using this research to evidence the need and advocate for greater protection and rights of LGBTQI learners in school and beyond. This work has attracted significant attention, with IGLYO being invited to speak at several high-level meetings and events, such as the UNESCO international symposium on school violence and bullying, the Maltese government’s High level ministerial conference on LGBTQI equality mainstreaming, the IDAHOT Forum, the European Commission’s third good practice exchange seminar and the Luxembourgish government’s conference, LGBTQI subjects for the education sector.
We have also worked with the Thomson Reuters Foundation to produce a report to analyse legal arguments in support of passing anti-LGBT propaganda laws in nine countries in Europe and Central Asia, and whether such laws come in conflict with other national legislation and international treaties and conventions that countries had signed on. The report also looks at how the anti-propaganda laws have been enforced, how children’s rights are protected under domestic laws and if the anti-propaganda laws are in breach of children’s rights under national and international legislation. The research shows the legal contradictions between the anti- propaganda laws and national and international binding legislation but it also points out the possible loopholes or escape routes that proponents might use to argue in favor of their drafts; it also helps activists to challenge the growing discourse around traditional gender and family roles.
We’ve launched a new flagship youth development and capacity building model, the Activist Academy, which debuted in July this year in Berlin, Germany. Youth development and empowerment is at the heart of all of IGLYO’s work and is what differentiates us from other all other international LGBTQI networks and organisations. We believe that giving young people opportunities to meet and share their experiences with one another and develop their skills and knowledge, through facilitated training programmes is what ensures that the LGBTQI movement continues to grow and unify globally. The Activist Academy is a five-day intensive training course, aimed at young people at the very start of their activist journey. Split into three distinct stages- team building, skills acquisition, and action learning, the course not only teaches young people practical skills, but gives them opportunities to put their learning into practice straight away through a series of group challenges. The programme consisted of group building activities, a menu of skills-based workshops led by experts from the international LGBTQI movement (IGLYO, All Out, ILGA Europe, TGEU, IDAHOT Committee and UN Volunteers) and a series of group challenges to practice the skills they’d learnt. The evaluations and feedback on this event are some of the strongest we have received, proving the effectiveness of this new approach.
As we have continued to grow and expand, many Member Organisations have asked for more attention given to specific regional issues and contexts. In response to this, we’ve started a yearly series of regional members consultations, with the first taking place in 2016 in the Caucasus region. In 2017, a similar second regional consultation in the Balkans area was organised in Belgrade, Serbia. The consultation was organised in partnership with LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey, ERA, and IGLYO’s Member Organisation EGAL. The objectives of the consultation were to provide a space for peer-learning, exchanging experiences and sharing on topics/trends relevant to this region and for focusing and sharing work on education (advocacy, policy, curricula, sensitivity training, teacher support, student support, campaigns, etc.). The event was also an important opportunity for IGLYO to strengthen its relationship with partner network ERA.
In partnership with OII Europe and the European Parents’ Association, we’ve developed the first comprehensive guide for parents and carers of intersex children. Using a human rights approach, the guide provides information and advice to parents on important topics such as discussing options with medical professionals, speaking with schools and supporting their child. Also, following the successful study session on intersex rights in 2016, we’ve coordinated the first ever Intersex Youth Network meeting in partnership with OII Europe. The event gathered ten young intersex activists for two days of intensive discussion, training and action planning.
We have also organised a series of online webinars – an online webinar about working around HIV in the transgender community in Europe; specifically about existing research updates, opportunities, funding options, current challenges and experiences of organisations (interested in) working around HIV and transgender issues; a webinar on Hepatitis A and the more recent outbreak in Europe, which is primarily affecting communities of young men who have sex with men (MSM), which was organised in partnership with; EATG, and ILGA-EUROPE with speaker prof. Jürgen Rockstroh from Uniklinik Bonn, who spoke in detail about the epidemiology of HAV, treatment options, the recent outbreaks in Europe, vaccination and many more topics; finally, awebinar on facilitation skills, which introduced a simple way to facilitate meetings/workshops based on questions: the ORID model. The webinar contributed to the increase of the participants’ capacity to design and facilitate workshops/meetings/presentations, using a simple framework and making sure their participants stay engaged.
Our Secretariat grew for a second time over the year, with the recruitment of a Communications Officer, allowing the organisation to increase its online presence, engage more consistently with members and partners and provide more information and opportunities for our followers. Staff of IGLYO had 4 members at the time – Executive Coordinator Euan Platt (Scotland), Capacity Building Officer Tudor Kovacs (Romania), Education Officer Ruben Avila (Spain), Finance & Administration Officer Karoline Börner (Germany) and Communications Assistant Joanna Veeremaa (Estonia)
As well as the introduction of new programmes and activities this year, we have been undergoing a period of review and evaluation to sharpen and refine the goals of the organisation and improve the activities we deliver. IGLYO’s Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 is the result of a year-long consultation with members and sets out four clear focus areas: building young activists; ensuring LGBTQI young people are present and heard; making schools safe and inclusive of all; and developing a network of engaged organisations. Drawing on our strengths and highlighting what sets us apart from other LGBTQI networks and youth organisations, the new strategic plan allowed us to ensure that even more LGBTQI youth feel supported, connected, included and empowered to fight discrimination and stand up for the human rights of themselves and others.
Annual Members’ Conference 2017 was held in Zagreb, Croatia in partnership with our member organisation Zagreb Pride. 63 representatives from 57 members attended. Over the three days, delegates took part in workshops, statutory meetings, consultations and networking activities.
IGLYO Executive Board members in 2017 were – Ksenija Joksimovic (Serbia), George-Kyveli Papadimitriou (Greece), Elin Lilijenbladh (Sweden), Cátia Figueiredo (Portugal), Julia Kata (Poland), Hakan Özkan (Turkey), Anna Robinson (Belgium), Evan Grm (Slovenia), Jorge-Maria Londoño (Sweden) and Marine Kurtanidze (Georgia).
The IGLYO Board and part of the staff team met four times over 2017 – in Brussels, Belgium (February), Ljubljana, Slovenia (April), Barcelona, Spain (June) and Tallinn, Estonia (November).
At the end of 2017, the total IGLYO membership had 91 Member Organisations.