Flanders supports LGBTIQ+ rights
17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (#IDAHOT), and the theme for 2022 is: “Our Bodies, Our Live, Our Rights”. The LGBTIQ+ community chose 17 May to mark the date in 1990, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The day is celebrated with events in 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts remain illegal today. To show our support for the LGBTIQ+ community, the buildings of the Flemish public administration and several of Flanders’ Diplomatic Representations abroad are flying the rainbow flag.
The Rainbow Europe Index 2022 of ILGA-Europe, the European umbrella organisation of LGBTIQ+ organisations, ranks countries based on the extent to which they take into account the rights of LGBTIQ+ persons in their legislation and policies. According to the index, Belgium ranks third in the world, and Flanders is jointly responsible for the good score.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that LGBTIQ+ people in Flanders are exempt from discrimination or even violence. To gain better understanding of the situation the Government of Flanders is conducting a survey among LGBTIQ+ people about their experiences with violence. The results will be available by the end of 2022.
The Government of Flanders supports the LGBTIQ+ community through various projects at home and abroad. In Flanders, for example, we fund the brand-new project Safe(r) Spaces. The non-profit organisations Wel Jong and çavaria work with the LGBTIQ+ community to create more places where LGBTIQ+ people can be themselves, where they can find peace of mind, and where they can ask questions or have a conversation.
Flanders also provides regular support to the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network (EFPN) of the Council of Europe. Initiated in 2008 as an informal network for the exchange of good practices between the Governments of the Netherlands and Flanders, this has developed into an intergovernmental working group with 36 members, anchored within the Council of Europe.
Further abroad, the Government of Flanders intends to maintain a focus on LGBTIQ+ rights when allocating subsidies. IDAHOT provides an ideal opportunity for the diplomatic world to draw attention to LGBTIQ+ rights. As such, the Delegation of Flanders in Pretoria partners with the Embassy of Belgium and the Embassy of Sweden to host screenings of the Flemish documentary “Pride is Protest!”. The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion on the importance and relevance of the Pride movement in South Africa and by poetry performances from South Africa and Swedish poets.
We wish the LGBTIQ+ community around the world a happy IDAHOT day!