Victory’s Balkans forums gather activists, political officials

This summer, Victory and our local partners in the Balkans organized a series of three Civil Society Forums in Albania, Macedonia and Serbia. The purpose of the forums was to bring the topic of LGBTQ equality to the national political agenda and to encourage greater political participation of LGBTQ people in the region.
The Civil Society Forums were a big step towards bridging the gap between LGBTI leaders and political parties in the region by providing a safe space for open dialogue on strategies to increase LGBTQ inclusion within political structures.  All three forums were attended by high-ranking government officials, Ambassadors, embassy representatives, political party representatives, members of parliament and civil society leaders.
“It is important that political parties take LGBTI rights as a part of their platform on human rights,” said Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President of the European Parliament & Co-President of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTQ Rights at the forum in Albania.
In 2014, Victory and its partner in Serbia trained 19 LGBTQ leaders from all over the Balkans. Serving as follow-up activities, the forums were organized in collaboration with several of these trainees: Antonio Mihajlov, Director of Subversive Front, organized the Macedonia forum on April 18, and Arber Kodra, Director, and Aurora Baba. Public Affairs Manager and Graphic Designer of Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), organized the forum Albania on May 19. Another forum was organized in collaboration with Labris on June 18 in Belgrade, Serbia.
“Albanian politicians have to deal with this through a human rights perspective,” said OMSA’s Kodra. “Not solely based on pressure from the EU.”
By bringing together political leaders and LGBTQ activists, our forums and trainings in the Balkans are making strides towards greater understanding in one of Europe’s more conservative regions.