European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe

In September 2015, ILGA-Europe and PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre) started the project, Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe.  We want to understand how people in Europe think about LGBTI equality and how to adjust LGBTI organisations’ communication accordingly to increase support and mobilisation. 

It is a prime focus for ILGA-Europe to explore how a values and frames analysis can help us tell better stories - including stories of real people, their life and experiences. These human and personal stories often get overlooked in the vast polarised and heated debate on equality issues. Yet the stories on LGBTI people’s life can help bridge differences and pave the way for better understanding.  We also need to ask ourselves what values for change we want to promote and how these values are framed. It is equally important to analyse how opponents to equality communicate their values. It makes an incredible difference to reflect on this if the European LGBTI movement wants to be better to tell the convincing story which ultimately seeks to bring more people on board towards change.

What is the project about?

Every day LGBTI organisations communicate on various issues concerning LGBTI equality. The aim with the communication is usually to inform, to motivate, to mobilise and to increase support for the work of the organisation. It is a complicated task to shape effective messages - especially in an information-overloaded world with endless bombardments of opinions and voices.

This project helps ILGA-Europe and its members to step up their strategic communication work. In order to be fully prepared on how to shape messages, we are aiming to understand the interaction between the following components:

  • how people are thinking about LGBTI equality
  • how people talk about LGBTI equality
  • how people are responding to messages on LGBTI equality

The way LGBTI equality is framed shapes the way a person will respond to it: whether they respond positively or negatively, and what type of solution they believe is appropriate. This links to how people think generally about LGBTI equality, and how people is perceiving messages related to this issue.

The foundation of the project is an exploratory journey. The journey has brought us down then road of extensive research of literature, surveys, reports and other data on LGBTI people in Europe. Since the project is the first of a kind in Europe, we are testing new techniques and tools.

What are the stages of the project?

Stage 1 - research

The project was initiated in September 2015 together with PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre). The first stage was to map the landscape by answering three main areas of questioning:

  • How do people in Europe currently think about LGBTI equality? Here, we’re particularly interested in attitudes and beliefs about LGBTI people and related issues that will help us understand the models that people use to reason about these issues.
  • How is LGBTI equality currently framed in Europe? How do advocates, opponents, and the public currently talk about LGBTI equality? What can this tell us about how people think about these issues? Which issues are most contentious? Which may be most strategic?
  • What do we currently know about the effectiveness of communicating LGBTI equality? What has and hasn’t worked in advocating for (or opposing) LGBTI people? Has research been done prior to or following particular campaigns or advocacy to measure their effectiveness?

In parallel to the research, ILGA-Europe and PIRC organised seminars with the ILGA-Europe board, staff team and member organisations. This was to further explore how frames of LGBTI equality were used in the daily work of LGBTI activists.

Stage 2 – test findings

After reading hundreds of pages of reports, surveys, articles and other kinds of literature, the next step was then to boil this massive wealth of information down to tangible takes on communicating LGBTI equality. As part of the exploratory process, we looked into how to develop successful narratives together with members of study sessions. We have then tested these narratives together with member organisations through focus groups, online surveys and street interviews. We wanted to check how effective our communications were and to explore how to use testing tools. 

Stage 3 – equip the movement

Stage 1 and 2 project are planned to close in Spring 2017. Time is then ripe to make the findings and tools of first two steps available for the ILGA-Europe membership and for other interested in campaigning for the rights of LGBTI people. Interested in knowing more about stage? Contact Valeria Santostefano, Senior Programmes & Policy Officer