Eurovision is coming to Copenhagen: The trick to combine Eurovision glitter and hardcore politics.
During Eurovision, the City of Copenhagen is providing the opportunity for all couples, Danes and foreigners to tie the knot on the 7, 9 and 10 May 2014. Furthermore there will be a celebration in town for the 25th anniversary for equal civil partnerships in Denmark – a world first – on 9 May on the cobblestones of Højbro Plads in the very heart of Copenhagen.
Let us use the festivities to raise serious issues.
European lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTIQ) activists will have an hour on stage just ahead of the reveal of the new name of a square at 5 pm just next to the famous City Hall square. It will be named Rainbow Square in order to honour the long fight towards LGBTIQ equality in Denmark. The name has been highly debated in Copenhagen politics, so it is expected that it will draw a crowd. Let’s send a clear message that there is still work to be done. At a glittery glamorous festive event it is difficult to attract a crowd for a serious subject, so let’s combine Eurovision glitter and hardcore politics and send a clear message that there is still work to be done
The aim is to get LGBTIQ activists already in Copenhagen involved. We want not just western EU people to discussing with other western EU people, so we need to involve activists from non-western European countries and get them to tell about their experiences during their life and as an LGBTIQ activist.
Move from intentions and recommendations to a changed reality
Of the countries participating in the Pan-European event that is Eurovision only Belarus and Israel which are not members of the Council of Europe. So nearly all countries participating in the Eurovision have supported the Council of Europe’s existing LGBT rights CM/Rec(2010)5 recommendation. The groundbreaking recommendation is a broad range of binding measures to combat sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. But we still need to move from recommendations to reality. There is all accross Europe need to focus on protection from hate crime and bullying, education and employment, family life and transgender equality.
The purpose is to ensure that every person enjoys equal rights and dignity. To affirm that “neither cultural, traditional nor religious values”, nor the rules of a “dominant culture” can be invoked to justify hate speech or any other form of discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Equal rights are the foundation of any democracy.
Recent years have seen widely negative developments for the LGBTI community in Russia. At the forefront of damaging developments we see the adoption of the so-called homosexual propaganda laws. International human rights organisations, LGBTI groups across the world and a number of governments have responded immediately to these negative developments in an outcry to stop these laws. But nothing or no one so far has been able to stop Russia’s intention to start a witch-hunt against minorities.
However there is need to look at equal rights also within the EU. LGBT persons in today’s EU society regularly suffer from not being able to be themselves at school, at work or in public. Many hide their identity and live in isolation or even fear. Others experience discrimination and even violence when being themselves. Homophobia and transphobia are not just a village in Russia. It is literally just around the corner in the EU.
We need to learn from each other on how to change attitudes and stop discrimination.
There are important differences between EU countries and even greater differences between the EU and non-EU countries. However the challenges of changing attitudes and fighting for equal rights remain the same. Let us inspire each other across boarders, raise awareness and celebrate the victories already won.
What can you do?
Are you in Copenhagen for Eurovision. Participate. Are you not able to join, then spread the word we want activists from all over Europe and not just EU countries.
Contact Karen on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning to visit Copenhagen and would like to help raise awareness of LGBTIQ issues and the work that still remains ahead of us.
See you in Copenhagen!