The first weekend in November, Rainbow Rose met in Paris for its fourth general assembly. We adopted a new Road Map for LGBTI rights in Europe with 40 representatives of 20 different nationalities present. We were graciously hosted by HES France to discuss the current state of rights for sexual and gender minorities across the continent and what must be done to ensure equal rights for all — regardless of where in Europe.
The general assembly was an opportunity for the various delegations to touch base, share best practices, exchange ideas and establish closer relationships for future collaboration on the international level — in addition to fun evenings out in Le Marais. There were a few tense discussions regarding gender parity in discussions, but everyone would now agree it was a good learning experience, plus the talks could continue into the night at a yummy dinner at Café Clochette.
There were a number of national MPs as well as an MEP in attendance, Vice President of the European Parliament Sylvie Guillaume. She spoke to the group on the role of the Parliament in fighting for LGBTI equality, and that things are not perhaps going as well as they could be. Guillaume said:
“Comparing how LGBT issues in the EP were treated in the previous mandate and this one, I can remember that during my first mandate, from 2009 to 2014, we adopted several resolutions calling for the repeal of homophobic laws in countries like Russia and Iran. We regularly condemned violence and bans against pride marches. However in the May 2014 European elections, there was a rise in the number of populist parties, which are far from being supportive of LGBT rights.”
Also joining Rainbow Rose were leaders from a number of likeminded organizations, including Marja Bijl, Vice President of PES Women. The heart of her message was the overlap between the two organizations in the fight for equality — and that she’s working hard for LGBTI rights in Brussels. Bijl explained:
“What can I do as a European Parliament Vice President to advance LGBTI rights? We try to be, as far as possible, a mirror of European society as a whole and therefore we want to promote the ideas of equality, non-discrimination, and diversity, even in the parliament administration.”
Also participating were the leaders from a number of youth organizations. Carly Walker-Dawson, Secretary General of International Falcon Movement; Alessandro Pirisi, Secretary General of the International Union for Socialist Youth; and Laura Slimani, President of the Young European Socialists, were all present, fully committing to stand alongside Rainbow Rose in the fight to expand and defend LGBTI rights.