Russian LGBT+ activists are trying to raise funds in order to hold the fifth annual LGBTQIA Family Conference in Moscow, which is due to start on Friday, November 9 and will last three days.
The conference usually features discussions from psychologists, therapists, educators and health professionals and is aimed at supporting Russian LGBT+ people and LGBT+ families in particular.
“The conference helps LGBT+ connect and experience support from others. It also provides psychologists and educators with guidelines on working with vulnerable groups. We bring specialists and the LGBT community together to fight against homo[phobia], bi[phobia] and transphobia and change society’s prejudiced views,” explain organisers.
Last year, around 400 people attended the conference and 35 speakers were featured, with discussions around how to best support LGBT+ people and families taking place.
The main theme of this year’s conference is “The value of family and partnership” and will largely focus on Russia’s “traditional family values” which are heavily influenced by the Orthodox Church and are thought to be traits exclusive to heterosexual couples and families.
Conference fundraiser and co-organiser Nadeshda Aronchik told PinkNews, “We want to be a part of the discussion and that is what the conference will be about.”
Although same-sex parenting is not outlawed in Russia, it is a hostile place for LGBT+ families, explains Aronchik. The threat of the 2013 law banning the spread of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” to minors looms over Russian same-sex parents, and Aronchik says that LGBT+ parents have “nowhere to turn.”
“You’d face discrimination and misunderstanding,” the activist added.
The event had previously received a grant from human rights organisations, but the grant has been cancelled leaving organisers with no option but to fundraise the money themselves.
The funds raised will also go towards the publication of a book summarising the conference’s seminars, so that the information can be obtained by a wider audience of LGBT+ individuals and families.
The organiser’s main concern, though, is the safety and security of attendees, as some attendees and guests were the victims of attacks by members of a nationalist group after last year’s conference.
“Some of the guests and volunteers, including myself, were attacked by a group of four men and we had to postpone the third day because the place was not safe anymore,” Aronchik said.
Discussing the upcoming conference in a video, two of the organisers say that the three-day event is a chance “to share best practices, discuss issues that arise from discrimination, to meet LGBT+ families in real life, see them and hear their voices.”
“It’s an opportunity to meet in a supportive and respectful environment. It’s an opportunity to receive psychological and legal help, to find specialists who are supportive and accepting,” they added.
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