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High profile forum on LGBT rights in Brussels
It’s no coincidence that Brussels provided the backdrop for the fifth edition of the European IDAHOT forum in the week during which the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia takes place. During this international conference on LGBT rights, a host of politicians, academics and international experts held joint debates on themes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals are still confronted with on a daily basis.
During this edition, the focus was on social achievements of the past years regarding LGBT policy. The event didn’t just provide a space for debate; rather the anniversary was seized as an opportunity to renew the call for a consistent LGBTI policy across the European member states and at the level of the European Union. In addition, ILGA Europe introduced the new Rainbow Europe Index. It offers an annual state of affairs for LGBT rights in the different European countries.
Flemish minister of Equal Opportunities Liesbeth Homans emphasises that Flanders is an international leader when it comes to LGBT rights: “In addition to strong regulation, we also aim for progressive policy initiatives. We have solid projects in education, at the workplace, in sports and in the media, but also in sectors where you may not expect to see them, such as in elderly care,” the Minister explains. “I am convinced other countries still have a lot that they can learn from us.”
Amending the transgender law
Liesbeth Homans’ federal colleague Zuhal Demir notes that LGBTI people often still have to fight for equality, even in the most progressive countries. “It’s for that reason that the Belgian government commits to providing permanent support to boost the LGBTI community, both domestically and abroad,” the State Secretary emphasises. “At the federal level, we are actually putting our money where our mouths are, among other things by amending the transgender law and by developing a global policy for intersex individuals.
Elected representative of the Flemish Parliament, Piet De Bruyn, also took an active part in the forum. He also represents the N-VA in the Council of Europe, for which he is currently writing a report on intersex persons. He initiated a panel discussion on this topic and formulated a number of conclusions at the end, in which he emphasised the imperative to never lose sight of the human rights perspective.