LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia


Find here bios of speakers at the Annual Conference 2017.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska

EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry,
Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Between 2007 and 2013 she was the Minister for Regional Development of Poland and from 2013 to 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of

As the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Infrastructure and Development she was in charge
of the strategic development system of the country, including the effective investment of the
European funds.

Her work resulted in the full absorption of the EU funds from the budget for 2004-2006 and the
successful distribution of almost EUR 68 billion granted to Poland for the years 2007-2013. She was
managing the process of the preparation of the efficient EU funds implementation system from the
EU budget for the years 2014-2020.

Apart from the European funds her tasks in the Polish Government included also the management of transport infrastructure (roads, railway, air traffic and ship transport) and issues related to
construction and housing.

Before from 1999 to 2007 she was working for the local government of the Silesia Region in Southern Poland.

A graduate of the Jagiellonian University. She also graduated from the Polish National School of
Public Administration and completed the business administration post graduate studies at the
Warsaw School of Economics.

Terry Reintke

Member of the European Parliament

Since 2014 Terry Reintke is the youngest female Member of the European Parliament. In her parliamentary work she pushes for gender equality, more progressive antidiscrimination policies, the recognition of new family models, and the support of queer movements all over Europe. During this year’s prides season Terry went to various prides - from Vilnius to Belgrade -, supporting activists in their struggle against the societal backlash, we are faced with.

Terry was born and raised in Gelsenkirchen and studied political science in Berlin and Edinburgh. She started getting interested in politics at the age of 14 and became an activist of the Young Greens in Germany shortly afterwards. Before becoming a Member of the European Parliament, Terry was the spokesperson of the Federation of Young European Green from 2011 to 2013.

Piet De Bruyn

PACE Commitee of Equality and non-discrimination and General Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI people of the Council of Europe

Piet De Bruyn is a Flemish (Belgian) politician. He came out to his friends and family in his late twenties and has been supporting the rights of LGBTI people ever since. He was appointed General Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI people by his colleagues of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in 2017. As General Rapporteur, he looks to empower the LGBTI movement and to build bridges between parliamentarians and LGBTI activists. Or as he points it out himself: “I might have become a politician, I never stopped being an activist.”

Follow Piet De Bruyn on twitter: @PietDeBruyn

Adam Bodnar

Polish Ombudsman/Commissioner for Human Rights

In 2004-15 Adam Bodnar worked for Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, firstly as a co-founder and coordinator of Precedent Cases Programme and then as a head of legal department and vice-president of the Management Board. He is also an expert in the Agency of Fundamental Rights of European Union. In 2013-2014 Bodnar was a member of the board of directors of the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture. In 2001-2004 he worked as a lawyer in Weil, Gotshal & Mangers law firm. Since 2006 he has been giving lectures at the law and administration department of the University of Warsaw.

Until the time of assuming the post of Ombudsman, Adam Bodnar, PhD cooperated with various non-governmental organizations, including Panaptykon Fund (chairman of the Foundation Council), ClientEarth Polska (member of the Programme Council), Prof. Zbigniew Hołda Association (co-founder and the member of the Management Board). He was also a member of the Civic Legislation Forum operating at Batory Foundation and of the editorial team of

In 2011 he was awarded with the Tolerance Prize by the Polish LGBT organizations. In 2013 he received a scholarship within the scope of German Marshall Memorial Fellowship programme.
With an approval of 67 non-governmental organizations in 2015 he was notified for the post of Ombudsman by Democratic Left Alliance Parliamentary Club and by independent members of the parliament, and also by Civic Platform Parliamentary Club. The Sejm appointed him at this post on 24 of July 2015 and on 7 August 2015 the Senate of the Republic of Poland approved this choice. Then, on 9 September 2015 the Sejm took his oath.

Urszula Kuczyńska 

Czarny protest (Black Protest) organiser

QueerED 2017 speaker

Urszula is a feminist, social and political activist who, in a country that is turning back the clock on gender and equality-related issues, has been actively involved in counteracting this trend. She has gone from delivering help to the victims of the Syrian war, through co-organising #Czarny Protest and women’s strike that swept through Poland in October last year, to reshaping #Czarny Protest into what it is today - in an effort to curb restrictions on women’s and minorities’ rights in Poland. She sits on the regional Executive Committee of Partia Razem – an extra-parliamentary opposition party promoting the “equality for all” agenda. Her journey is that of an introvert who, once a line was crossed, turned tireless human-rights advocate acting upon a deep conviction that in the face of adversities - it is the solidarity that is our best and strongest weapon. She would like to share some of the lessons she learnt along the way with you. 

Luca Stevenson 

Activist and coordinator at ICRSE (The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe)

Luca Stevenson is a male sex worker and sex workers' rights activist  He co-founded Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) , a grassroots sex workers cooperative in UK which advocates and organise for sex workers' rights. He currently works as Coordinator of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE), a network of 95 organisations working with and/or led by sex workers in 31 countries in Europe and Central Asia. Luca has been developing trainings and workshops for sex workers from many European countries and led campaigns against violence against sex workers and for legal reforms. Luca aims to challenge stereotypes of sex workers as 'powerless victims', advocate for sex workers' rights from a labour rights perspective whilst organising against structural inequalities and discriminations that can lead many people to sex work.

Luca is also the producer of 'Honey Bringer: Stories from Sex Worker Freedom Festival', filmed in Kolkata in 2012.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah 

Co-founder and Executive Director of UK Black Pride

Phyll is the co-founder and director of UK Black Pride, an out black queer woman (QWoC), she is a Diva Magazine Columnist, a Stonewall Trustee, a trade unionist, and an equalities campaigner who focuses on intersectionality. It is safe to say that Phyll is one of the leading lights behind the amazing celebration of Black LGBTQ communities. She has been named in the Independent Rainbow List as one of the top 100 most influential LGBT people and also in the World Pride Power List. 2015 saw Phyll become one of the judges for the Independent Rainbow List. 

A Civil Servant by profession, she took a job in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Trade Union where she started off trailblazing as the only Black female lead negotiator within Law and Justice bargaining area, then was promoted to Head of Equality, Health & Safety. Thereon to be the Head of Political Campaigns and Equality.

In 2014, Phyll previously served one year on the Pride London Community Advisory Board (CAB) and currently sits on the TUC LGBT Committee, TUC Race Relations Committee, board member of Justice for Gay Africans which focuses on Human Rights, Equal Rights, challenging racism and discrimination.

Phyll pride’s herself as an activist who is passionate about what she believes in and works diligently to make people aware of the cause, she has worked tirelessly to build UK Black Pride by bringing together LGBT activists, artists, volunteers and supporters from across the LGBT community. Her efforts are constantly recognised with a nomination and recognition by way of MBE but she rejected the Queens honor because she said: "I don't believe in empire. I don't believe in, and actively resist, colonialism and its toxic and enduring legacy in the Commonwealth, where - among many other injustices - LGBTQI people are still being persecuted, tortured and even killed because of sodomy laws.

Phyll cites this quotation from Dr Maya Angelou as her maxim: prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

Lisa Power

Co-founder of Stonewall (UK), lifelong lesbian activist

Lisa Power came out in 1976 and has been protesting, speaking, and lobbying for LGBT+ rights ever since. She was an early Secretary General of ILGA, co-founder of Stonewall (Britain's highly successful LGBT political lobby group), Policy Director of Terrence Higgins Trust and a long term volunteer on Switchboard, London's LGBT+ helpline. She authored a history of the Gay Liberation Front in London and was the first openly LGBT person to speak on our rights at the United Nations in 1991. Most recently, she has published a toolkit for dismantling legal & regulatory barriers across Europe to HIV services (

Alice Coffin

Lesbian and feminist activist, and a co-founder of the European Lesbian* Conference (EL*C)

Alice Coffin is a French feminist and lesbian activist and a journalist.

She is a coordinator of La Barbe. This feminist activist group led more than 200 happenings in French places of power to underline the domination of men on their boards, stages or programs. In 2012, facing the rise of the anti gender and hate group La Manif pour tous, she helped building the media strategy of the lesbian and feminist group Ouiouioui to fight hate speeches in the public sphere and advocate for medically assisted insemination.

She is currently the co-chair of the French Association of LGBT Journalists, AJL, which she cofounded in 2013. AJL promoted several guidelines to help journalists better cover LGBTI and minorities issues and organised in June 2017 Les OUT d’Or,  the first French LGBT Awards.

She is the co-founder of La LIG (Lesbiennes d’Intérêt Général), the first French foundation for lesbians.

She is a  board member of the European Lesbian*Conference which will in October 2017 gather 400 lesbian activists, artists, politics, journalists and allies from 45 countries in Vienna.

She is a teacher in media studies at the Université Catholique de Paris and has been granted by the Fulbright Program for NGO Leaders to conduct a six month survey in the US about the French concept of “neutralité” and how it impacts the way journalists deal with LGBTI  issues. 

Jonny Dzhibladze 

Activist from Coming Out, St. Petersbourg, and coordinator of the Trans* Mission programme and Monitoring Programme.


Jonny was born in Moscow and has been engaged in human rights activism since his teenage years, volunteering with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other international and Russian organizations. Although he has lived openly as a transgender and bisexual person since school, Jonny got involved specifically in LGBT-rights activism only after the coming into force of the “propaganda law” and the subsequent surge of homophobia and transphobia in the Russian society.

Since 2015 Jonny has been working with Coming Out, one of Russia’s oldest regional LGBT initiatives, as coordinator of two projects: the Trans*Mission, a program aimed to support and empower the transgender community, and the Monitoring of discrimination program. Advocating for an intersectional approach and attention to the situation of people who face multiple stigma, and also believing strongly that self-advocacy is the best activist policy, Jonny strives to help activist spaces become platforms where people with diverse identities and vulnerabilities can find the support and strength to raise their voices, share their stories, learn from each other and grow as communities. 

Happy Mwende Kinyili

Director of Programme Mama Cash

Happy Mwende Kinyili is a writer, activist, researcher and facilitator who is interested in the intersections of feminisms, pan-Africanism, sexualities, spiritualities and change. Happy works at Mama Cash as their Director of Programmes. Prior to joining Mama Cash, Happy was the Director of Programmes at UHAI, an East African LGBTI and sex worker community fund. Happy has been active and continues to contribute to the feminist, LGBTI and sex worker movements.