The annual conferences of ILGA Europe have become events that cannot be missed by the European Forum. From 1st to 4th November 2017, the European Forum went five people strong: Co-Presidents Elaine Sommers and Wielie Elhorst, Eastern Europe Coordinator Tatiana Lehatkova, Project Manager Misha Cherniak, and Fundraiser Damir Kurtagic. ILGA Europe now has a membership of over 500 organisations throughout Europe and Central Asia, and 570 representatives were present. As the political situation is changing in Europe, with populist movements on the rise and human rights for several groups—such as (LGBTI) migrants—being under ever greater pressure, the theme of the conference was well chosen: “Change! Communities Mobilising, Movements Rising!”
As shown by the horrendous persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and the fundamental changes in political leadership in countries like Hungary and Poland, it is very important not to deny this change and to build a movement of very diverse LGBTI communities that is ever stronger and that can withstand all changes and (potential) adversity that lies ahead. Only a few of all the organisations present bring together and represent LGBTI people of faith. Four of these were present: Maruf Foundation, the European Queer Muslim Foundation, HuK (Homosexuelle und Kirche) and the European Forum. The conference, however, proved to be a great opportunity to collect information and to connect with ILGA Europe, some of its other member organisations and quite a few persons of interest, like the newly appointed General Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI People, Piet de Bruyn, in the Council of Europe, in which the European Forum is also present (since July 2016).