The Federal Ministry for Health, the Ministry of Family Affairs, the Federal Center for Health Education, the Anti-Discrimination Agency, the State Ministry of Health, Equalities, Care and Ageing … in one way or another, all those ministries and subordinate agencies support LGBT issues in Germany. Gays and lesbians from Greece are not that lucky. Matter of fact, there is not a single Greek authority accepting competence for the LGBT community. Public funding for LGBT projects is thus rare, if not non-existent.
In such an environment, it is no wonder that the acceptance of gays and lesbians by the Greek society is restrained at best. This is why the Greek office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) invited three Greek LGBT activists from the Athens-based “LGBT Helpline” to Cologne and Brussels to exchange with likeminded activists and gather information on how to alternatively finance their civil society engagement. The helpline provides first aid and advise to gays and lesbians who were verbally or physically assaulted.
The Greek participants were overwhelmed by the boundless possibilities offered in Germany, but also felt encouraged to continue fighting for the rights of the LGBT community. “In Germany, cooperation between civil society and the state is brilliantly organized”, one of the participants concluded afterwards. “The LGBT community can thrive independently, and whenever there is a financial shortcoming, various civil society organizations can share the burden. This can be used as a best-practice for Greece.”
In order to collect ideas on how to sustainably finance the Greek “LGBT Helpline” even without public funding, the group met with representatives of the “Gay Network North Rhine-Westphalia”, the LSVD (“Lesbian & Gay Association of Germany”) as well as the Federal Center for Health Education. Meetings with members of the Cologne city council, organizers of the Cologne Pride weeks and members of the Liberal Gays and Lesbians (“LiSL”) rounded off the trip to Western Germany’s “gay capital” before continuing to Brussels.
Here, the three Greeks were united with two other LGBT activists, Kseniya Kirichenko from Russia and Auf Usaam Mukwaya from Uganda, to have various political talks about anti-discrimination and other LGBT issues in the heart of Europe. A well-visited public event (read here) completed the three day programme.