I believe that if we want to achieve sustainable change for LGBTI communities, we need a strong and well-resourced LGBTI organisations with diverse strategies. We need people speaking with decision-makers, we need those moving hearts and minds, those supporting community members and building their power, and those that use their critical voices that hold the movement accountable. ILGA-Europe understands this and shapes it work to ensure this movement sustainability, and drives thoughtfull and strategic change on multiple fronts – from policy to empowering and resourcing organisations. That is a huge motivation for me in itself. This year will we will be rolling out a lot of new initiatives that bridge some of the gaps we see – work on social acceptance, building stronger alliances, skills builidng for new and developing initiatives. But it is also a year of Euroean Elections, so much of our focus will be on ensuring that while our political landscape is shifting, LGBTI rights remain high on the agenda across the region.
ILGA-Europe has been providing financial and capacity development resources to LGBTI organisations in the region for years, but thanks to the EVZ Foundation we were able to step up our work by not only increasing support, but also growing the sustainability of the work done by offering multi-year financing. This affords organisations a rare chance to strategize and develop work that fits the ever-changing context much better than restrictive project funding that prioritises activities over impact. An example of this is a grantee partner who has established a horizontally structured network, uniting 11 LGBTI community centers strategically placed across different regions of a country. These centers have become vital hubs for LGBTQ+ individuals, offering a range of services, from counseling to education, creating impact on the community's well-being and making a huge difference in the lives of LGBTI individuals, even in challenging environments.
Russia has been a challenging context already, but it’s important to note that this decision of the Russian Court is unprecendeted and poses real threats to LGBTI organising. We will surely be seeing a degree of migration, and any support offered to those to wish to relocate – resources, visas – will be precious, but we also need to remember that the vast majority of activists will remain in the country and continue their work, especially the work on supporting communities. Philanthropic, political and non-governmental actors must remain committed to calling out violations and supporting LGBTI groups and organisation in Russia with financial and other resources, because they will continue their work, even in the mist high-risk circumstances. ILGA-Europe will also continue its support and engagement.