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The Frontline

Author: The Frontline

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Presented by ILGA-Europe, an umbrella organisation for over 600 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organisations across 54 countries, The Frontline is a podcast about LGBTI activism and lives in Europe and Central Asia. Deep-diving and analysing from a unique and informed perspective, The Frontline aims to bring you to the core of queer activism and give you an understanding on the complexities of what's happening, why it's happening, the wins and the losses, the challenges and commonalities, and the extraordinary ways in which the work of those on the frontlines continues in a rapidly changing world.
4 Episodes
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ILGA-Europe’s 10th Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI People in Europe and Central Asia, comes after a year of unprecedented change for the world, and a pandemic that had a noted effect on LGBTI people and communities. Reporting from country after country provides a glaring clarification that progress which has been taken for granted is not only increasingly fragile, but particularly vulnerable to exploitation by anti-human rights forces. In this episode of The Frontline, we get an overview of the stark situation from ILGA-Europe’s Advocacy Director, Katrin Hugendubel. Executive Director of Transgender Europe (TGEU) talks to us about the significant growth of opposition towards trans rights across Europe; and Executive Director of ILGA-Portugal, and Marta Ramos tells us about the rise of the anti-gender movement in her country, and the ways in which LGBTI organisations have had to skew their work during the COVID-19 pandemic towards provision of basic necessities like food and shelter as many governments left LGBTI people out of their relief packages.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic went global, we worried that equality would slip off EU agendas as lockdowns and an unprecedented economic crisis took hold. In this episode of The Frontline, we look back at the extraordinary year that was 2020, and the engagement of the EU in LGBTI equality issues, exacerbated during the coronavirus crisis. Our Executive and Advocacy Directors, Evelyne Paradis and Katrin Hugendubel look back on what surprisingly turned out to be a successful year for EU engagement. Activists from ILGA-Europe member organisations in Slovenia and Hungary talk about the rise of ultra-right populism in both EU countries, Hungary’s slew of anti-LGBTI laws as the virus raged on, and their respective responses to EU institutional engagement and how it can go forward. Members of the EU Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, MEP’s Terry Reintke (Greens/EFA, Germany) and Maria Walsh (EPP, Ireland) give an inside view on the year gone by, and reflect on a challenging first year for the new Intergroup. It all adds up to a comprehensive look at the EU and its engagement in equality, in a Europe where LGBTI rights have become a sharp dividing line.
   “Attitudes towards LGBTI people are changing and changing fast,” says activist, Lilly Dragoeva from the Sofia-based Billitis Foundation, in this episode of The Frontline, which delves into the current situation in Bulgaria, a country we don’t often hear about as Poland and Hungary’s governmental persecution of LGBTI people grabs the headlines. There may not be LGBT-free zones in Bulgaria, but it’s a country with almost no protections for LGBTI people, a growing, so-called ‘anti-gender’ movement, a successful spreading of demonising fake news stories, and an alarming advance in societal rejection of LGBTI people. Along with Lilly, we speak with activist Simeon Vasilev from GLAS Foundation about a growth in official anti-LGBTI hate speech and the role the EU can play, and with Dimithar Dimitrov from the Bulgarian city of Plovidiv, where in September there were organised attacks on young people who are perceived as LGBTI. Some hope for Bulgarian LGBTI people comes in the form of strategic litigation for the recognition of a rainbow family, and we speak to attorney Denitsa Lyubenova, from the LGBTI youth organisation, Deystvie, about the current state of play with the case. Rounding the episode up, ILGA-Europe’s Programmes Director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal talks to us about the wider picture in Europe, the reasons behind the growth we’re seeing in anti-LGBTI politics and movements, and the way the LGBTI movement can strategise to counteract this.
   In this episode of The Frontline we delve deep into the situation for LGBTI people in Poland and the work of activists amid the rise of official anti-LGBTI campaigning and the recent crackdown. We talk to Polish activist Slava Melnyk from KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) about how the situation has come to a head in the aftermath of the re-election of far-right President, Andrzej Duda. David Socha, a young gay man living in the city of Pulawy, which has been designated one of Poland’s LGBT-free Zones, tells us about how this has affected his day-to-day life, and the ILGA-Europe advocacy team discuss the role of the EU institutions and external actors, and ways forward for the LGBTI movement in Poland. To access our timeline charting the rise of LGBT hate in Poland, visit this link: https://www.ilga-europe.org/sites/default/files/Poland-Anti-LGBT-Timeline.pdf
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