This special set of comments is a personal report on
events taking place during the ILGA Europe conference in
At least one comment is added every day. Please check this page regularly.
The official report on the ILGA Europe conference can be found on the conference section of the ILGA Europe website. There you will also find the speeches by Thomas Hammarberg, professor Jack Donelly, other official declarations and the press release by COC Haaglanden on winning the bid for organizing the 2010 ILGA Europe conference (in Dutch).
Thursday evening at 22.15 h. the plane landed at
We spent some time setting up a time table for the first round of elections for the position of male secretary-general. When we presented it to the conference, there immediately was a question why the man presented it and the woman stayed silent. Welcome to the emancipation struggle. After that Simone and I did our work like clockwork. The ballot box went with us to the reception of the Austrian Green Party held at the former house of the Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky, where a lot of people voted already.
party awarded three prizes to organizations for women in
From 23.00 tot 24.00 h. we sat at the hotel for those who hadn't made up their minds yet. After we counted it was time for a drink in the hotel bar. The final evening we all had together and most of us stayed until the bar closed. The next morning (I only got up in time) it was time for a second round between the two top candidates. And then a first round for the alternate secretary-general and a second round. We did four elections in two days, plus a call for several alternates that we still missed.
the time we spent outside the conference room, the rest of the conference was
very busy discussing proposals to change the ILGA constitution and accept declarations,
including one directed at the
conference ended with a round of applause and after that it was time to say
goodbye to old friends and new. We will meet again in two years, May 2010, in
the beautiful city of
was supposed to be a smooth running conference, but all that changed suddenly
after I wrote my last comment yesterday. During the conference there are
elections being held for the secretariats, the host city of 2010 and for the
two secretaries-general. The candidate for the position of male
secretary-general gave a very emotional and incomprehensive statement. He is
clearly overworked and needs to take some rest. Well, instead of sending him a
message like "Please get well, we are thing of you", the conference
on Wednesday morning decided to reopen the elections and call for more
candidates for the position. This Swedish proposal was supported by the groups
Yesterday evening we went
to the Austrian parliament for a reception. We were greeted by the speaker of
parliament and the leader of the Green Party. After a while the Brazilians
started singing, closely followed by the Africans. After the reception some of
us went into town for a local beer. Back at the hotel a lot of people were
watching the BBC coverage of the American elections. Unfortunately the bar
closed somewhere around 2.30 h. and the television was switched off. I tried
watching in my room, but I could not help falling asleep. When I woke up history
had already been made with the election of Obama as first black president of
At the opening of today's session there was a lot of singing and dancing from the African delegates and it was decided that ILGA should send a congratulation telegram to the president-elect. After that festive start everything went downhill. The conference decided to re-open the nominations for male secretary-general. As a result the election officers stepped down and I was asked to fill the vacancy together with Simone from LOS (Switzerland).
Together we are trying to organize these elections within the small time frame we still have. We have a strict programme for this elections, the second round and the elections of alternates tomorrow. Tonight we have the final reception of this conference offered by the Austrian Green Party. Unfortunately because of the elections there will be no time to party until the early hours.
The Mayor's reception at the Rathaus was in a different room than last
week's event. The ambiance was different as well. This was the first time I
went to a gathering with so many different nationalities and cultures.
Apparently there are 80 countries represented at the ILGA World conference.
Even countries that you wouldn't expect like
Some of the Americans were walking around with Vote Obama badges and today's election was a recurring subject of conversation. Many delegates plan to watch the election broadcasts this coming night. The only problem (for the Americans that is) is that the hotel doest not have CNN but has the BBC World News. The temperature is rising.
After a very, very short night it was time for the opening session of the ILGA conference. There were speeches by Leo Steiner, the general director of IBM Austria (a big sponsor), Engelbert Theuermann, the director for human rights of the Foreign Department, and Paula Ettelbrick, member of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
The rest of this day (because when I write this it is only 10.00 h. in the morning) will have a lot of technical issues and discussions on the election process, reports on last year's work, the budget, the strategic plan, and subjects like that. For many delegates it is not the most preferred way to spend a day, but without all this an organization like ILGA can not work properly.
The ILGA-Europe conference has ended. Today the last of the participants left. Those who stayed behind are now participants in the ILGA World conference. And what a different conference this is already. For most of us it is such a new experience meeting people from other parts of the world, hearing their stories and sharing their experiences. I know that the next three days will be very exhausting but even more inspiring.
today were the pre-conferences on lesbian and transgender issues, I took some
time off to visit the United Nations complex here in
As I already knew the basic facts of the United Nations and the UN system, he took the opportunity to tell me some extra things about the organizations that are based in Vienna and also what it is like to work in a the VIC. Apparently it is a small city all on its own, with a supermarket, a hairdresser, a chemist and much more. You name it, they've got it.
I took a lot of photos and the two here show the
After the tour I spent some time at the souvenir shop, the UNPA shop and drank some coffee at the UNO café while writing some post cards. On the way back I had to change metro lines and took the opportunity to visit the town's cathedral, the Stephansdom.
Tonight we are going to have a reception at Town Hall (again) that I can report on tomorrow morning.
party last night was in the heart of the MuseumQuartier and Hosi Wien provided
a delicious buffet and some light entertainment with singers and dancers. The
party afterwards was open to all people from
The last conference day started very, very early because the second round of voting took place before 10.00 h. It was to decide which board members could stay on for two years and which for one year. During two plenary sessions there were discussions on the proposals put forward in advance and through the workshops. A vote was taken on the continuation of the Election Preparation Committee for next year. The proposal was accepted with a small majority.
The proposal to hold the 2010 conference in
ILGA Europe said goodbye to Patricia Prendiville, who was managing director for the last four years. She has been a great influence on the work and organization of ILGA Europe, the staff, the board and the conference. It was a very emotional moment when the board and her staff each made a small comment on Patricia's work and her personality. We are all sad to see her leave, but we hope that she will continue the work that she has started in one form or another. She gave us all an extra boost by quoting an Irish saying: "Our day will come".
The new board was presented to the conference and after the traditional singing of the conference song (This year Girls just wanna have fun by Cindy Lauper) it was time for lunch and for saying goodbye. This is always the most emotional part of the conference. After five days of very inspiring meetings and discussions, of meeting old friends and making new ones, it is time to leave for home and try converting all this new energy into activities to further equality and emancipation.
During the day participants for the ILGA World conference were pouring
in. People from the Pacific, the
This afternoon I attended a workshop on LGBT friendly
governments. There were three of them that gave a presentation on their
policies and programmes:
All three have very impressive and successful plans and programmes that seem to have a real impact on the individual LGBT life. But all this action is still a start and it is still very much needed. As the Flemish representative pointed out, the law is very good at this moment, but a lot of people can't or won't accept that there are people that are different and have their rights too.
Later I again sat
down with Vladimir from the Lithuanian Gay League who organized last year's
At the last plenary of the day we got the results of the first round of elections. Two people out of thirteen did not receive at least 20% of the votes and are therefore excluded. The candidate that ended on place eleven is a reserve member and the other ten are elected. Tomorrow morning a second round of voting will be held to decide which five board members can serve for two years and which five for one year.
After all this it
was time for my presentation of the bid for the 2010 conference. I kept it short,
starting off by saying that we were honoured with the opportunity, but that it
was a pity that there was only one candidate. After mentioning the full support
of the Dutch cabinet in organizing the conference, I told the delegates:
"2010 is a special year. Firstly we have to discuss and approve the new
strategic plan for ILGA Europe. Also it marks the end of the
This evening is the final dinner and farewell party. I hope to write something about that tomorrow morning.
Yesterday we had a very busy day here at the ILGA Europe conference. My day started off with a workshop session on the conference proposals and the evaluation of the work of the Election Preparation Committee (EPC) that was established at the 2007 Vilnius Conference. The problem was that too few people put themselves forward (or were put forward by their organization) to be a candidate for the board.
The EPC gave a verbal report on the work that was done during the last year and asked for a new term for 2009. After that a discussion arose on the results of the EPC and if the committee provided the member organizations with something extra that the board in previous years couldn't. A positive thing was that this year a list of requirements and skills that candidates need was published and that the election statements provided to the members included more information than usual. It was decided that these statements would next year be included in the pre-conference mailing so that every member will have more time to consider who to vote for.
My proposal was to send out the call for candidates and the list of requirements already in January. Normally this is included in the first mailing in June. That doesn't give the members enough time to look for suitable candidates. I think it was accepted, because no one disagreed with me.
The presentation by Thomas Hammarberg, the
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, was as ever very
inspiring. It was followed by a 'lecture' by professor Jack Donnelly of the
At the end of the plenary there was a special surprise
for Hans Ytterberg, the Swedish Ombudsman on Sexual Orientation Discrimination.
He was the first to serve in this capacity in
My presentation for
The evening programme consisted of a guided bus tour
and a dinner. Our guide took us along special Viennese LGBT places, like the
birth house of Schubert, the workplace of Freud and the statue of Prince Eugen
Back at the hotel most people ended up in the hotel bar. It was a night with a lot of fun, laughing and useful discussions. I remember discussing voting procedures and the composition of the board until the lights went out (the bar's, not mine).
Last night we were invited by the Mayor and Governor
After the speeches (yes, there were some more) it was
time for the buffet and the bar to open. I must say that the food here in
Something of a shock for many people was that you are
allowed to smoke in bars and restaurants in
That was last night. So what is on the agenda today? I will attend the workshop that discusses the conference proposals and evaluates the work of the Election Preparation Committee. For the first time a team of ILGA members actively sought candidate board members. I have no idea if it has worked well, because there is no report from the committee included in the conference papers.
After that there will be a panel discussion "Supporting LGBT rights nationally and internationally" with Thomas Hammarberg, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, and Madeleine Rees, from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The final part of today's programme is the plenary
session where the board candidates each get a few minutes to present themselves
and convince us that they are the best choice to be on the board for the next
two years. Also I have to make a presentation on the candidature of
Tonight there is a guided bus tour through the city, followed by a dinner at Weinrestaurant Hajszan, offered by the Vienna Tourist Board. It's turning into a real Vienna Congress now.
Today saw the official opening of the 12th ILGA Europe conference
This morning the
conference was formally opened by Dr. Maria Berger, Federal Minister of Justice
of Austria. She spoke about the importance of the work of ILGA and its members
for people all across the continent. Also she told us that last year she
introduced a proposal for a registered partnership in
After the coffee
break we listened to presentations on international standards on human rights
of LGBT people and challenges the movement will face ahead from Morten Kjærum
(director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights) and Belinda Pyke (European
Commission's director of Equality et al.). Both were a little worried that the
progress that has been made during the last months will be slowed when the
For the rest of this afternoon there are different workshops on, among others, 'hostile questioning', the 'Universal Periodic Review', the Social Charter of the Council of Europe and ILGA's Strategic Plan.
And why am I here?
Well, COC Haaglanden
has sent me to this conference to present the candidature of
Tonight we are
invited by the Mayor of Vienna to attend a special reception and dinner at