It is a great honour to be standing in front of members and activists of the LGBTIQ+ community from the Western Balkan countries and Turkey”

Dokumentation der Rede des Deutschen Botschafters Peter Zingraf in Tirana anlässlich der Jahreskonferenz von ERA

Dear ERA representatives
Dear Mrs. Ballanca
Dear Mr. Gajda
Dear colleagues
Dear guests

It is a great honour to be standing in front of members and activists of the LGBTIQ+ community from the Western Balkan countries and Turkey who fight for equal rights and social acceptance. I have the greatest respect for the difficult and challenging work you are doing in your countries to overcome legal and societal discrimination.

I am proud that the German Federal Foreign Office, through the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD), is one of the main supporters of this conference. The promotion and protection of human rights, and of LGBTI rights as one important element, is a priority for German Foreign Policy. Germany is a member of the Core Group for LGBTI rights, the Global Equality Fund and founding member of the Equal Rights Coalition.

By supporting LGBTI organizations worldwide, we aim at contributing to a dynamic dialogue with authorities and the society at large. Our objective is that LGBTIQ+ people enjoy the same rights, that they have equal access to health and other social services, that they are empowered and that everyone lives in a safe environment and has equal opportunities regardless of sexual and gender identity.

Across this region, many state authorities have taken proactive steps towards protection of LGBTI rights. In most countries of the region, antidiscrimination strategies and action plans have been approved and launched. This is an important step forward.

However, LGBTI persons are still affected by discrimination, harassment, exclusion and violence. Therefore, a lot of work remains to be done to ensure full implementation of existing strategies and laws.

Civil society organizations play a key role in this process. Through their continuous and passionate lobbying, they have brought about important positive changes. However, we cannot rely on NGOs exclusively. It is first and foremost the responsibility of public authorities to ensure the respect of all citizens and the protection of human rights. I am convinced that this conference will bring up new ideas and strategies to bridge the gap between policies and lived realities of LGBTI persons.

This year marks a first. In 2019, we had pride marches in all Western Balkan countries and Turkey. Civil society organizations and embassies have teamed up in many cities to show that diversity is a fact in every society.

This success should motivate us. We all know that the societal climate for LGBTIQ+ people can be difficult, can be hostile. The ERA conference, bringing together its network of more than 50 organizations, is a good moment to take stock and to jointly discuss strategies on how we can address the still widespread prejudice, discrimination and violence.

Let me conclude by again thanking you for your efforts, for your passion and patience. I wish you a successful conference, productive days, new ideas and a good time together here in Tirana.

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