Time to react – Creating an enabling environment for civil society

Invitation to the International conference at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, 1 June 2017

Despite positive developments and stronger movements toward democracy in many countries, the opposite tendency is also evident on a global scale. Civil societies are under threat from actions taken not only by authoritarian but also by democratic governments.

Before I knew what that ? ‘shrinking space’ was supposed to mean, our organization was affected“, says Henri Tiphagne, Director of People’s Watch in India. Many different types of action are restricting civil society. These include legally enacted legislation or administrative regulations that affect women’s rights groups, foundations, human rights organizations, and land rights and environmental protection work. They also include relatively new laws designed to protect national values or identities, which are used to criminalize vaguely defined unpopular political action. NGOs are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the registration requirements in many countries. New laws also make it harder to receive funding from abroad.

Organizations for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) have long faced registration challenges, especially in countries that criminalize homosexual acts. Russia´s new ‘anti-propaganda laws´ make any positive mention of homosexuality – even for health education – a punishable offense. Less well known internationally are anti-NGO laws such as those in Uganda or laws that seek to uphold “national dignity”. These especially affect LGBTI organizations which are frequently their primary target.

It is time to come together to develop counter-strategies that reflect and incorporate the special role of LGBTI organizations. This conference focuses on foreign policy, development cooperation, NGOs, and donors. The aim is to formulate questions and discuss possible solutions. What alliances, good examples, and ideas already exist that can help both foreign policy and development cooperation react to the shrinking space for civil society?

Location: Library at the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt), Berlin
Address: Werderscher Markt 1, 10117 Berlin
Date: Thursday, 1 June 2017 , 2 pm – 7 pm
Languages: German/English with simultaneous interpreting
Idea: Yogyakarta-Alliance, civil society network
Organized by Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation and the German Federal Foreign Office

Sarah Kohrt
LGBTI-Platform Human Rights

 

Tags: , , , , ,