On Friday 19 May, on the eve of the Belgian Pride festival, liberals gathered for a Liberal Pride Pub Talk in Brussels. The event, organised by the ALDE Party together with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Europe, had the purpose to discuss the situation of LGBTI+ rights in the different Member States, deepening the data published on the ILGA Rainbow Europe map 2017 .
The event moderated by Daniel Tanahatoe (Communication Adviser, ALDE Party) and Daniela Oberstein (Programme Manager, Friedrich Naumann Foundation Europe), hosted three panellists involved in the LGBTI+ rights: Ann Brusseel (Open Vld Senator & Out of the Blue Chair LGBTI Network), Yuri Guaiana (ILGA Europe Board Member and ALDE Party Steering Committee Member) and Simeon Vasilev (Director and Co-Founder of the GLAS Foundation Bulgaria).
Brusseel, Guaiana and Vasilev opened the debate by describing the performance of Europe concerning the LGBTI+ question. While Vasilev mainly focused on the Balkan area and on the situation of the LGBTI asylum seekers who fleeing from Syria, entered Europe through the Balkan route; Brusseel discussed how the European Union should react but also emphasised the behaviour of individuals: “I usually don’t ask people if they are gay or married because I really don’t care. I just want to see happy people and this is my engagement: to see more tolerance, understanding and empathy towards the other individuals,” Brusseel stated.
The main problem in Bulgaria, Vasilev explained, is the indifference and apathy of the Bulgarian government, which is not intentioned to implement some best practices or to improve the situation for what concerns the LGBTI people in Bulgaria. In fact, he proposed that the ALDE family should submit a position paper on the subjects regarding the gender equality, in order to let countries as Bulgaria feel the pressure of the European Union.
Similarly, Guaiana who has been recently arrested in Russia for having delivered more than 2 million signatures against the anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya, explained what is really happening in Chechnya where already 26 victims have been identified since the beginning of the year. According to Guaiana, it is unacceptable that the European institutions do not implement sanctions towards those countries who are violating the international treaties they signed.
All the panellists concluded by claiming that it is important to have grassroots initiatives which come directly from the civil society. Not only institutions, associations and NGOs: but also every single citizen should be committed to the defence of the LGBTI rights and condemn every time they are violated.
The debate involved a great interest and participation of the audience which raised several questions and issues such as the high suicidal rate among LGBTI people.
The event was a great opportunity to learn more about the recent LGBTI developments in Europe and outside of it, as well as a wonderful occasion to come together and to discuss how we can ensure that liberal values and the compliance of human rights become real in Europe.
The next day, on Saturday, Belgian Liberals of Mouvement Réformateur and Open Vld joined the Pride parade. The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel was among the liberal politicians that joined the parade.