EGLSF accepted the Government of Portugal and ILGA Portugal’s invitation to speak on the Sports workshop panel for the IDAHOT Forum 2018, Lisbon on May 14th, 2018.

The central theme of the Forum was mainstreaming of LGBTI rights from local to global policies. The Forum was a full day of plenary presentations and workshops, that highlighted many of the current-day issues concerning our community, covered in themes from sport to interculturality, local politics and education.

After the Opening session that introduced the tone for the day, the “In our backyard: Looking at the status quo of LGBTI rights in Europe” and “In & Out: Closing the gaps of the European Internal and External Coherence” plenaries presented and led to discussion of the newly published Rainbow Index and Map (ILGA-Europe), the Trans Rights Europe Index and Map (TGEU), and the LGBTIQ inclusive Education Index (IGLYO). The advances and “non-advances” represented by the publications were highlighted, as was the importance of working together to push for progress, because, as Eleni Tsetsekou (Head of the SOGI unit of the Council of Europe) pointed out … “History has told us that society was never ready for change…

[and that the change we are advocating for here] has nothing to do with society’s approval – it has everything to do with equality”.

Portugal hosting the IDAHOT Forum on the tails of the Eurovision Song contest is fitting because our community has a lot to celebrate – but we must not become complacent, because there is still a long road left to travel – the “non-advances” represented by the newly published indexes and maps are proof.

The rising populism, leading to a rise in hate crimes across Europe, the political backlash and stagnation is worrying and underline that recent wins are still fragile and our community is vulnerable to undemocratic tendencies. We need to ensure that policies become an everyday reality, and to do this policy makers need support, expertise and political backing for the everyday efforts.

The workshops – Sport, Youth & Education, Interculturalism ad Local Politics – emphasized the progress that has been made, the legacy that our community is creating, but also the areas that are severely lacking in progress, notably - gender recognition and the lack of advancement in the acceptance of self-recognition/determination for Trans and Intersex individuals in most of our European countries.

Issues that were raised in the Sport workshop included the necessity of our organisations to work towards total inclusivity – we need to continue the work that we are doing on Trans and Intersex inclusion in sport. And there was discussion about influencing major sporting organisations and institutions such as the National and International Olympic Committees to adapt to the reality of our sporting world.

The day ended with a wrap-up session in which Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director of ILGA-Europe, insisted on the necessity of working together to create the change we need, and the ceremony of the passing of the IDAHOT Forum flag to Norway, host of the 2019 7th IDAHOT Forum.