We have just participated in the annual ILGA-Europe conference, which was hosted in Ljubljana this year, us being one of the local hosts.
The ILGA-Europe conference, hosted in the heart of Ljubljana, was a gathering full of passion and purpose, and it brought together over 400 activists from 54 countries in Europe and Central Asia. This year’s conference bore the theme “Rising to the Moment.” It addressed the pressing challenges faced by our community, emphasizing the importance of sustainable strategies, solidarity, and unity in the face of adversity. The engaging discussions centered on topics vital to our movement’s urgency of responding in a complex environment where LGBTIQ+ individuals are increasingly targeted by antidemocratic forces.
During this eventful week, we had the pleasure of organising various activities. To help with logistics, we hosted a group of ESC (European Solidarity Corps) short-term volunteers, coming from Spain, Portugal, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Italy. The group of young, enthusiastic LGBTIQ+ individuals worked together with our local volunteers and mainly helped on the spot of the conference, providing information and guidance for participants. They worked hard and played hard. We were equally impressed by their help at the conference as by their dramatic performance on Karaoke night.
Additionally, our local efforts took center stage as we organized a panel discussion and a press conference titled “Advancing the Protection of the Human Rights of LGBTI People in Slovenia.” This was an opportunity to bring together local decision makers and esteemed experts from abroad to talk about Slovene development of LGBTIQ+ human rights policies, as the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities has been directed to prepare and adopt the National Strategy for the Equality of LGBTIQ+ Persons in Slovenia in 2024.
The panel discussion connected Dan Juvan, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities, Miha Lobnik, Head of the Slovenian Equality Body, Bella Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the European LGBTI youth organization IGLYO from Ireland, and Kitty Anderson, co-president of the European Intersex Organization OII Europe, co-founder of Intersex Iceland and president of the board of the Icelandic Center for Human Rights from Iceland. The insights and experiences from Ireland and Iceland shed light on key elements of successful strategies, emphasizing the importance of collaboration, inclusivity, and comprehensive policy frameworks. Slovene decision makers and allies were able to resonate and present their role and plan in the creation of the National strategy and action Plan. The panel was facilitated by ILGA-Europe’s Advocacy Director, Katrin Hugendubel, who was able to frame the conversations with a clear goal of reaching concrete conclusions.
Moreover, our association’s newest program, SQVOT, addressing LGBTIQ+ homelessness, housing exclusion, and minority stress, found its place at the conference. Vesna Štefanec, the program coordinator, led a workshop with two experts from abroad, Coco Wheeler from True Colors United and Christian Weitzel from Sonntags Club, shedding light on the housing difficulties faced by our community, emphasising the importance of solidarity and resilience, connecting them to the conference’s main focus.
We have provided the international guests of the conference with some educational entertainment programme, too.
They had the opportunity to explore Ljubljana through our engaging LGBTIQ+ tours. Led by our local and ESC volunteers, these tours highlighted significant LGBTIQ+ organizations, legal landmarks, and welcoming spaces, revealing the rainbow spirit of our city. On top of that, a cinematic experience awaited as we screened a documentary film, “The Flag.” This intimate portrayal of personal stories from LGBTIQ+ locals resonated deeply with the conference participants, amplifying our shared narratives and struggles.
In the midst of these colourful moments and as a final cherry on the top of this big, rainbow cake, our president, Simona Muršec, achieved an important milestone as well. Elected to the ILGA-Europe Executive Board, Simona’s unwavering determination and passion for activism promise to shape pivotal decisions, ensuring the well-being of the most vulnerable within our community.
As we reflect on this whirlwind of inspiration and queerness, we are filled with excitement for the future. We anticipate upcoming projects that will allow us to connect with activists from diverse corners of the globe. To stay updated and engaged, we invite you to follow us on our website and social media platforms. Join us in our journey – whether you are offline, or online, we are grateful for your support and contributions.