Protecting LGBTI rights in the Western Balkans

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Participants at the conference discussed public perceptions and strategies to support LGBTI rights

It was a great pleasure for us to support a ground-breaking conference in Belgrade on LGBTI rights in November, in partnership with the Foundation Max van der Stoel and the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity (EFDS). The event gathered social democratic political foundations and parties from South East Europe and the EU, as well as experts on the topic and LGBTI activists from the region.

Recent years have seen some significant advances for LGBTI rights in terms of legal protection, such as the recognition by law of same-sex partnerships in Croatia in 2014, and anti-discrimination laws in Albania and Kosovo. Research was presented at the conference on the situation of LGBTI people in the region, public opinion towards them, and the numerous challenges still faced. Participants heard positive experiences from other countries where recent progress had been made such as Spain and the UK. The presence of the European-wide Rainbow Rose network offered some inspiration as an example of cross-border support.

The conference ended on a positive note, with a desire to look at further support work which can support LGBTI rights and representation within the participating social democratic parties as well as in broader society. It is clear that change will take time and effort, and that dialogue, making allies, and joining networks of support are important ingredients in this work.

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