The Frontline Podcast
Deep-diving and analysing from a unique and informed perspective, The Frontline aims to bring you to the core of queer activism and give you an understanding on the complexities of what's happening, why it's happening, the wins and the losses, the challenges and commonalities, and the extraordinary ways in which the work of those on the frontlines continues in a rapidly changing world.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic went global, we worried that equality would slip off
EU agendas as lockdowns and an unprecedented economic crisis took hold. In this episode of The
Frontline, we look back at the extraordinary year that was 2020, and the engagement of the EU in
LGBTI equality issues, exacerbated during the coronavirus crisis. Our Executive and Advocacy
Directors, Evelyne Paradis and Katrin Hugendubel look back on what surprisingly turned out to be a
successful year for EU engagement. Activists from ILGA-Europe member organisations in Slovenia
and Hungary talk about the rise of ultra-right populism in both EU countries, Hungary’s slew of anti-
LGBTI laws as the virus raged on, and their respective responses to EU institutional engagement and
how it can go forward. Members of the EU Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, MEP’s Terry Reintke
(Greens/EFA, Germany) and Maria Walsh (EPP, Ireland) give an inside view on the year gone by, and
reflect on a challenging first year for the new Intergroup. It all adds up to a comprehensive look at
the EU and its engagement in equality, in a Europe where LGBTI rights have become a sharp dividing
“Attitudes towards LGBTI people are changing and changing fast,” says activist, Lilly Dragoeva from the Sofia-based Billitis Foundation, in this episode of The Frontline, which delves into the current situation in Bulgaria, a country we don’t often hear about as Poland and Hungary’s governmental persecution of LGBTI people grabs the headlines. There may not be LGBT-free zones in Bulgaria, but it’s a country with almost no protections for LGBTI people, a growing, so-called ‘anti-gender’ movement, a successful spreading of demonising fake news stories, and an alarming advance in societal rejection of LGBTI people. Along with Lilly, we speak with activist Simeon Vasilev from GLAS Foundation about a growth in official anti-LGBTI hate speech and the role the EU can play, and with Dimithar Dimitrov from the Bulgarian city of Plovidiv, where in September there were organised attacks on young people who are perceived as LGBTI. Some hope for Bulgarian LGBTI people comes in the form of strategic litigation for the recognition of a rainbow family, and we speak to attorney Denitsa Lyubenova, from the LGBTI youth organisation, Deystvie, about the current state of play with the case. Rounding the episode up, ILGA-Europe’s Programmes Director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal talks to us about the wider picture in Europe, the reasons behind the growth we’re seeing in anti-LGBTI politics and movements, and the way the LGBTI movement can strategise to counteract this.
In this episode of The Frontline we delve deep into the situation for LGBTI people in Poland and the work of activists amid the rise of official anti-LGBTI campaigning and the recent crackdown. We talk to Polish activist Slava Melnyk from KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) about how the situation has come to a head in the aftermath of the re-election of far-right President, Andrzej Duda. David Socha, a young gay man living in the city of Pulawy, which has been designated one of Poland’s LGBT-free Zones, tells us about how this has affected his day-to-day life, and the ILGA-Europe advocacy team discuss the role of the EU institutions and external actors, and ways forward for the LGBTI movement in Poland. To access our timeline charting the rise of LGBT hate in Poland, visit this link.