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Feb 21, 2008 News: Different Families, Same Love - Conference on LGBT Families in Europe
By Danny Sonnenschein

(EU) - On 4-6 March 2008, ILGA-Europe, in partnership with Informational centre LEGEBITRA, a Slovene LGBT organisation, organises a conference on LGBT families in Europe. This conference is a contribution to the current Slovene Presidency of the European Union and aims at drawing attention to the lack of recognition and existing discrimination against LGBT families at European level.

This conference will bring together LGBT activists, decision makers and experts in the field of LGBT families. The purpose of the conference is to enhance a dialogue between European institutions and civil society on the topic of legal recognition of LGBT families.

At the conference, ILGA-Europe is also launching two new reports on LGBT families. The first report provides an overview of international law affecting LGBT families and of the problems these families face because of lack of legal recognition. The second report examines the implications of the EU five-year programme on closer cooperation in justice and home affairs (the Hague Programme) for LGBT families. Additionally, ILGA-Europe is also launching a series of 12 posters and postcards portraying the diversity of LGBT families. The posters and postcards highlight the challenges and issues they face because of the lack of legal recognition, as well as various positive developments at European level advancing the legal situation for LGBT families.

Deborah Lambillotte, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said: “With this conference, we want to put the issue of diversity of family models and their recognition firmer on the EU agenda. Unfortunately, only a few EU member states recognise and embrace families in all their diversity. In most EU countries, LGBT families and their children are still ignored, excluded and discriminated against. There is no protection or recognition of LGBT families on EU level and as a result LGBT people, same-sex couples and their children face serious disadvantages.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, added:

“This conference is also an opportunity to continue discussion on what is considered to be a family. Currently, most EU member states and the EU itself have a very narrow interpretation and understanding of what constitutes a family – married heterosexual couple and their children. We want to shed the light on the lived realities and draw the attention of European decision makers to the fact that people live in a variety of arrangements and families. We believe it is not a matter for a state or the EU to prescribe how people should organise their lives, but rather to acknowledge, recognise and support every family in all their diversity.”

Simon Maljevac, Chair of LEGEBITRA, said:

“To host an event such as this conference during the Slovene Presidency of the European Union is an honour and a challenge for our organisation. We believe that the discussions facilitated within this conference and the relevant issues brought forward will further contribute to the better understanding of the diversity of the LGBT families in Europe and in the long run have a positive effect in many EU member states. Our hope is that the discussions, experiences and findings presented will influence and encourage national as well as international opinion-makers and authorities towards the enforcement of more inclusive and protective legal support needed for LGBT partnerships and families in EU member states.”

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