Sunday, June 19, 2016

Baltic Pride 2016 Conference

On Friday, June 17th 2016 I took part in the Baltic Pride Conference in the Tolerance Center in Vilnius, Lithuania. The conference's theme was “Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: Emerging International Consensus and Local Opportunities”.

The one-day conference program was very intense - next to welcome addresses and keynote speeches by politicians and activists, it offered sessions on global, European, Lithuanian and Baltic-regional levels of considering and working for human rights (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th session, respectively). We heard the following speakers:

Welcome addresses:
Julius Pagojus – Vice-Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania
Jutta Schmitz – Ambassador of Germany to Lithuania
Vladimir Simonko – Executive Director of the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL
Bert van der Lingen - Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Lithuania
Kajsa Ollongren – Deputy Mayor of City of Amsterdam
Nils Muižnieks – Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights (video)

Keynote speeches:
Stuart Milk – President of the Harvey Milk Foundation
Ulrike Lunacek – Vice-President of the European Parliament and Co-Chair of the EP’s LGBTI Intergroup

1st session:
Moderation: Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius – Policy Coordinator (Human Rights) of the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL Lithuania
Tanuja Munnoo – Provincial Manager of the South African Human Rights Commission
Ashley Fowler – Program Coordinator for HRC Global at Human Rights Campaign, USA
Helen Kennedy – Executive Director of the EGALE Canada Human Rights Trust

2nd session:
Moderation: Alexander Schuster – Lecturer in Law at the University of Trente, Italy
Erwann Binet – Member of the French National Assembly
Monica Cirinna – Member of the Italian Senate
Robert Wintemute – Professor of Human Rights Law at the King’s College London

3rd session:
Moderation: Natalija Bitiukova – Deputy Director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania)
Danutė Jočienė – Judge of the Constitutional Court in Lithuania
Vytautas Mizaras – Professor of Law at Vilnius University, Attorney at law
Dalia Kuodytė – Member of the Lithuanian Parliament
Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė – Member of the Lithuanian Parliament

4th session:
Moderation: Birutė Sabatauskaitė – Director of the Lithuanian Center for Human Rights
Imre Sooäär – Member of the Estonian Parliament
Ilze Vinkele – Member of the Latvian Parliament
Aušrinė Armonaitė – Member of the Vilnius City Council

Worth emphasising is the participation of a representative of the Lithuanian government, especially when considering Lithuania being the worst country in the EU when it comes to legal protection of LGBT* rights. Also, the Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius wrote an open letter to the participants of the March on Saturday, June 18th.

Some photos from the event:

welcome addresses:

Ulrike Lunacek speaking right after the touching and intense talk by Stuart Milk (sitting) dedicated to the victims of the Orlando shooting

 the organiser, V. Simonko

 prof. Wintemute

a representative of Lithuanian politics

 the venue

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