"Building Our European Community"
After Amsterdam project: In December 1998, the European Commission selects another project of ILGA-Europe to receive EU funding. The two-part project is carried out during 1999: ILGA-Europe publishes its guide “After Amsterdam – Sexual Orientation and the European Union” in four languages. It contains background information about the significance of Article 13 in the Amsterdam Treaty (which comes into force on 1 May) and ILGA-Europe’s recommendations with regard to new legislation and actions based on this article. On 2-3 October, ILGA-Europe organises, with the support of HOSI Wien, a seminar in Vienna in which 45 activists from EU member states and accession countries participate.
ILGA-Europe’s lobbying activities for new EU anti-discrimination legislation and an action programme to combat discrimination, and for including “sexual orientation” in these, are pursued with full power during the whole year – and at all levels: in the networking with other NGOs, with the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Another lobbying activity starting in 1999 with full gear is towards the EU Charter on Fundamental Rightsthat is being prepared. ILGA-Europe is also invited to participate in the 1st European Human Rights Discussion Forum, organised by the Finnish EU Presidency in Brussels on 30 November and 1 December. ILGA-Europe continues to be invited to these annual forums in the years to come.
At the Council of Europe, ILGA-Europe is lobbying for and contributing to two reports. The motions for these reports and recommendations had been tabled by Austrian MP Irmtraut Karlsson: one in 1997, and one “on discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Europe” in January 1999. In addition, ILGA-Europe also lobbies for inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the new version of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“broadened” by Protocol 12).
“Sink Schwimmer Campaign”: Between October 1998 and June 1999, ILGA-Europe and its member organisations across Europe carry out one of its largest campaigns ever: to prevent the election of Walter Schwimmer as the new Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. In the Austrian Parliament, the conservative politician had voted against equal rights for LGBT people on several occasions. The campaign is almost successful. In the end, Schwimmer is elected by a narrow margin of two votes! And five years later, he is not re-elected although he stands again as a candidate for that position.
Annual Conference in Pisa, Italy
The conference (theme: “Building Our European Community”, 20-24 October) is organised by Arcigay Pride!, the local Arcigay branch in Pisa. The Representation of the European Commission in Italy, the office of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Equality, Laura Balbo, become honorary patrons of the conference. Around 60 delegates from all over Europe participate.
A new board is elected:
Nico Beger (Germany), Adrian Relu Coman (Romania), Isabelle Cruette (France), Tatjana Greif (Slovenia), Steffen Jensen (Denmark), Kurt Krickler (Austria), Jackie Lewis (United Kingdom) and Alberto Volpato (Belgium/Italy).
Anke Hintjens (Belgium) and Jan Willem de Jong (Netherlands).