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Dublin Hosts Major LGBT Youth Conference

Dublin Hosts Major LGBT Youth Conference 

Monday, 17 June 2013 

Dublin hosts Major European Conference on the rights of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people. 

On Monday June 17th in Croke Park, BeLonG To, Ireland’s national youth service for LGBT young people, with the support of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, brought together the main EU Institutions and LGBT Activists from across the world to discuss the rights of LGBT young people. The conference was developed following the findings from a Europe-wide consultation with young people under the Irish EU Presidency which identified LGBT youth as one of the most socially excluded groups in Europe. 

A recent survey by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency of 93,000 LGBT people across Europe, which was presented at the conference, found almost 90% of respondents experienced homophobia or transphobia in school and that LGBT young people were more severely socially marginalized than LGBT adults.  

Speaking at the conference, Michael Barron Director of BeLonG To said: 

The bringing together of representatives of the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Youth Forum along with Irish youth sector interests and policy makers to discuss the needs and rights of LGBT young people is really significant and the Irish Department of Children and Youth Affairs should be commended for supporting this event as part of its Associated EU Presidency Programme.”  

He continued:  

The outcome of the conference will be a Dublin Statement of the principles and actions which will guide and inform the development of strategies for LGBT young people across Europe. If we look at what is happening in Russia today and at how homophobic and transphobic politics and hate crime is taking hold in many parts of Europe this statement could be extremely important in the long run. What this conference is saying is that LGBT young people throughout Europe have fundamental rights when it comes to education, employment, participation in society and safety No LGBT young person should be made suffer because of who they are and the time has come for a considered national and European response.” 

Speaking at the conference, Minister Fitzgerald noted that the issues and challenges faced by LGBT young people today include employment, education, participation and access to services including quality youth services. With regard to the Irish EU Youth Presidency Programme, Minister Fitzgerald said: 

As set out at the start of our Presidency we want to ensure a sustainable link and legacy with regard to our programme and the theme of social inclusion. This will be achieved through our support and promotion of The Dublin Statement on LGBT Youth & Social Inclusion. This should inform social inclusion policy and initiatives across Europe in responding to the needs of LGBT young people”. 

International speakers at the event included Dr Eliza Byard Executive Director of GLSEN, USA – the largest organization in the world working to combat homophobic and transphobc bullying in schools and Nevin Öztop from Kaos GL, a Turkish LGBT Activist who spoke about the protests and situation in Turkey for LGBT people today. Kocho Andonovski from Macedonia, and Peter Matjasic, President of the European Youth Forum also address the conference 

Opening the Conference, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, praised the work of BeLonG To saying  

BeLonG To has made significant progress in providing safe, developmental and fun services to LGBT young people in Ireland where they can develop and progress and by empowering them to act as agents of positive social change. They have been to the fore both nationally and internationally, in a wide and varied range of initiatives, to highlight the challenges and difficulties faced by LGBT young people.  These initiatives have been instrumental in putting Ireland at the forefront in combating the problem of homophobic bullying through its work in the youth sector, as well as in other sectors and settings.” 

She continued, 

I, with my European colleagues, have worked to promote a more effective, coordinated youth policy at both national and EU levels. Specifically, we have worked collaboratively on Council Conclusions that propose actions that will maximise the potential of youth policy in addressing the goals of Europe 2020, particularly employment and that highlight the importance of quality youth work as a tool for the development of young people. Today’s conference is an important opportunity to look at the position of LGBT young people, as one of the most marginalised groups of young people, in this work and to consider how the social exclusion of LGBT young people can be addressed Europe-wide”. 

EU Youth Ministers have stated their commitment to follow up and take relevant actions in this regard to maximising the potential of youth policy in addressing the goals of Europe 2020 and Minister Fitzgerald is hosting an expert round table event that will explore further the role of youth work in advancing the employment of young people (20–21 June 2013, Castletown House, Co Kildare), which BeLonG To will be participating in.  

The Conference was also addressed by Pascal LeJeune, DG Education & Culture, European Commission.