LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

EU study visit and Strategic Litigation Training for LGBT human rights defenders

On 10-14 May, 2011 ILGA-Europe organised a study visit to EU institutions and a training on Strategic Litigations for 9 LGBT human rights defenders from the Western Balkans and Turkey.

The purpose of the study visit was to give the participants a thorough understanding of how different European Institutions work and what mechanisms the activists can use to advocate for the rights of their communities. It also gave them an opportunity to meet with the relevant officials in the European Institutions and to raise with them the issues of LGBT people in their respective countries.

During the study visit LGBT human rights defenders from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, fyr Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey met with the Deputy Head of the Commissioner Füle’s Cabinet and with the relevant officials at the European External Action Service; Directorate-General Justice and Directorate-General Enlargement at the European Commission. The activists also participated in the consultations on the European Commission’s 2011 Progress Reports and had individual follow up meetings with relevant country desk officers at DG Enlargement. They were also introduced to the work of the European Parliaments Intergroup on LGBT rights and had a meeting with the Secretariat of European Network of Equality bodies-Equinet.

The study visit was followed by a two day training session on Strategic Litigations. The training aimed to equip the participants with sufficient knowledge on strategic litigation with the view to help them build it into their organization’s advocacy plans. During the training the activists learned the concept of strategic litigations; how use the newly adopted anti-discrimination laws in their countries, how to collect evidence of discrimination and work with the national equality bodies. They were also introduced to the relevant case law of the European Court of Human rights, particularly on freedom of assembly, hate crime and hate speech and transgender issues, and to the practicalities of taking cases under ECHR. The training consisted of presentations/inputs by the trainers followed by practical exercises, case studies and discussions. The participants found it to be very useful and relevant to their needs.