LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia


This year’s conference will see another great number of fantastic speakers. At this stage we are excited to present you already three confirmed keynote speakers:



Elke Ferner

Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Elke Ferner, born in 1958 in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, is married and lives in Saarbruecken, Germany. After the Abitur, she was trained and worked as a software engineer before she became a Member of the German Parliament for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1990. From 1998 to 2000, she served as State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Affairs. In 2002, she returned as MP to the German Parliament and was a member of the Budget Committee until 2005. Between 2005 -2013 she was Deputy Chairwoman of the SPD-Parliamentary Group, responsible for social and health care issues. In 2013, she became Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Elke Ferner has been a member of the SPD since 1983. She was elected President of the Association of Social Democratic Women (ASF) in 2004 and is still holding this position. Since 2005, she has also been a member of the executive board of the SPD. In June 2015, Elke Ferner was elected as a member of the Bureau of PES Women, the women’s organisation of the European Socialist Parties.

Randy W. Berry

U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons

Randy W. Berry is the U.S. State Department’s first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons. He arrived in his new post on April 13, 2015. Prior to serving as the Special Envoy, he served as the United States Consul General in Amsterdam. He was United States Consul General in Auckland, New Zealand from 2009 to 2012, and prior to that, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal from 2007 to 2009. Mr. Berry’s career with the State Department has also taken him to postings in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda (twice), and South Africa, as well as Washington DC. Mr. Berry holds a State Department Superior Honor Award, and is a nine-time Meritorious Honor Award recipient. He speaks Spanish and Arabic. Mr. Berry was raised on a family cattle ranch in rural Custer County, Colorado. He is a graduate of Bethany College of Lindsborg, Kansas, and was a Rotary Scholar at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Before joining the Foreign Service in 1993, Berry worked as an international training manager for America West Airlines in Phoenix, Arizona.

Geeta Misra

Executive Director of CREA

Geetanjali Misra is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of CREA. Geeta has worked at the activist, grant-making, and policy levels on issues of sexuality, reproductive health, gender, human rights, and violence against women. Before joining CREA, she was Program Officer Sexuality and Reproductive Health for the Ford Foundation in New Delhi and supported non-governmental organisations in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka working on sexual and reproductive health and rights. She also co-founded SAKHI for South Asian Women in New York in 1989, a non-profit organisation in New York, committed to ending violence against women of South Asian origin. Geeta is the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Mama Cash (The Netherlands); Board Member of Reproductive Health Matters (UK); and Member of the Expert Advisory Group of Cordaid (The Netherlands) and of the Advisory Board of FHI360 (US). She was President of the Board of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) from 2006–2008. She writes on issues of sexuality, gender, and rights, and has co-edited Sexuality, Gender, and Rights: Exploring Theory and Practice in South and Southeast Asia. Geeta holds Master’s degrees in International Affairs from Columbia University, US, and in Economics from Syracuse University, US.

Yiorgos Kaminis

Mayor of Athens

Yiorgos Kaminis was born on 15 July 1954 in New York, where he resided until the age of five. His family then returned to Athens. Apart from Athens, he has also lived in Osaka, Paris, Madrid and Heidelberg.

He commenced his studies at the University of Athens’ School of Law, graduating in April 1980. In December 1990, he was elected as a lecturer of the University of Athens Law Faculty and became an assistant professor in June 1998.

In May 2003, Mr Kaminis was unanimously elected Greek Ombudsman at a ‘Presidents of Parliament’ roundtable meeting, having previously served as assistant ombudsman with responsibility for human rights since 1998. He announced his resignation and intention to stand as a mayoral candidate for the City of Athens in August 2010. Mr Kaminis was elected Mayor of Athens with the municipal ticket ‘Right to Athens’ on 14 November 2010 and assumed his mayoral duties on 1 January 2011.

Jessica Stern

Executive Director of OutRight Action International

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International (formerly known as International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), specialises in gender, sexuality and human rights globally. As the first researcher on LGBT rights at Human Rights Watch and a Ralph Bunche Fellow at Amnesty International, she conducted fact-finding investigations and advocacy in relation to Iran, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. She has campaigned extensively for social and economic justice in the United States for the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Urban Justice Center and as a founding collective member of Bluestockings. A past board member of Queers for Economic Justice, she currently serves on the board of the International Bar Association’s Committee on LGBT Rights and the Law. Educated at the London School of Economics, she teaches at Columbia University.

Mike Jackson

Founding member of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM)

Mike Jackson was a founding member of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) in 1984/5 and became the Secretary of the group. The LGSM story is told in the film "Pride" and  Mike is one of the central characters portrayed in the film. LGSM was formed in London in 1984 to raise financial support & solidarity for UK striking miners from within the London lesbian & gay community during the year-long strike of 1984/5. They twinned with the mining communities of South Wales and raised almost £25,000. As well as building solidarity with the miners, the group challenged homophobia in mainstream society and the British Press and built an important alliance between LGBTQ activists and the British trade union movement. This alliance proved to be a turning point in the progression of LGBT rights in Britain - with the miner's trade union and many other unions supporting the call for LGBT equality. LGSM & the National Union of Mineworkers led the 1985 Lesbian & Gay Pride march in London jointly. LGSM reformed in 2014 in the aftermath of the film's release, to respond to media & community interest in their story and Mike is Secretary of the reformed group. LGSM led the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) 4000-strong contingent on this year's Pride in London Parade and have also led several regional and national Pride marches throughout Britain and Europe during 2015.

Murat Köylü

External affairs coordinator at Kaos GL

Graduated from architectural design, Murat Köylü has been serving for civil society organisations as a volunteer and a professional within their operational or governance mechanisms since 2008. Hrant Dink Foundation, Positive Living Association, Association for Social Change and Kaos GL has been among these CSOs. He has been working as the external affairs coordinator at Kaos GL since 2012. He is also member of the boards of Amnesty International Turkey, and Civil Society Development Center. His focus regarding human rights themes are hate speech, hate crimes, rights based media, anti-discrimination (LGBTIs – refugees – HIV/AIDS in particular); relations with intergovernmental organisations, awareness raising and advocacy activities to national legislative and executive mechanisms. 

Gráinne Healy - Queer-ED talk

Co-Director of Yes Equality and Chairwoman of Marriage Equality Ireland 

Grainne Healy was Co-Director with Brian Sheehan of Yes Equality which successfully co-ordinated a campaign which saw the introduction by popular vote of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ireland. Chairwoman of Marriage Equality Ireland since 2008, and its forerunner KAL which supported the case taken by Zappone and Gilligan to have their Canadian marriage recognised. A long-time feminist campaigner, Grainne was editor of Attic Press and Chairwoman of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. She was also Vice-President of the European Women’s Lobby and President of the EWL Observatory on Violence Against Women. She was awarded the DCU President’s Award in 2014 for her LGBT community activism and was the recipient of a GALA Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014. She has also just completed a PhD from DCU for her thesis which explores civil partnership and its meaning to same-sex couples in Ireland. A published author, her latest co-authored title (with Sheehan and Whelan) ‘Ireland Says Yes – the inside story of the Yes Equality Referendum’ is due to be published in November 2015.

Miguel Vale de Almeida - Conference host

Anthropologist, professor at the University Institute of Lisbon, and LGBTI activist.

Miguel Vale de Almeida (Lisbon, 1960) is Professor of Anthropology at ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute and Researcher at CRIA – Center for Research in Anthropology. With research in Portugal, Brazil, Spain, and Israel/Palestine, his work has focused on gender and sexuality, as well as on ‘race’ and ethnicity, and postcolonialism. He published several books, two of which in English: ‘The Hegemonic Male’, on masculinity, and ‘An Earth-Colored Sea’, on Portuguese colonialism and postcolonialism in Portuguese-speaking countries. He has also published an edited volume on the body, “Corpo Presente”, co-edited one on colonialism and post-colonialism, “Trânsitos Coloniais”, and published a collection of his essays on anthropology and citizenship, “Outros Destinos”, as well as a collection of news paperop-eds, “Os Tempos que Correm”, a book of short stories, “Quebrar em Caso de Emergência”, and an award-wining science-fiction and dystopia novel, “Euronovela”. His latest book, in Portuguese, is ‘A Chave do Armário’, on issues of same-sex marriage and family. As an LGBT rights’ activist, he was a member of Portuguese Parliament, instrumental in the passing of the same-sex marriage and gender identity laws.