Thursday, January 12, 2012

ERATO  covering rainbow cultural workers & friends 
ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) Information Secretariat
www.ilgcn.tupilak. org         Stockholm  August – November, 2011

Belarus Pride press conference (Photo by Willi Reichhold)
  Swedish-Ukrainian-Belarus joint rainbow solidarity events
Minsk Rainbow Meeting         

     Minsk – Swedish and Ukrainian queer delegations met with Belarus colleagues in the Belarus capital October 20-23, 2011—the 2nd stage in the 3-nation project following a similar meeting     in Kiev in October – also  Minsk supported by the Swedish Institute, the official body promoting Swedish international exchange. (Continued on  page 2)
Swedish-Ukrainian-Belarus LGBT culture co-operation
Tupilak/ILGCN Visit to Kiev  
 Kiev – A Tupilak delegation made a September 2-4 2011 visit here with Ukrainian, Belarus and Swedish LGBT activists and cultural workers in Kiev – a trip made possible thanks to support from the Swedish Institute.

   This included performances, art and photo exhibits, films, lively       At the Insight Office discussions and seminars, visits to the women’s organization Insight and the office of the Men’s Alliance, as well as planning for future rainbow co-operation between the three countries.  This was the first of three such visits including Minsk and the Crimea in June, 2012.

(Photo by Willi Reichhold)
 Visby The first LGBT memorial monument in the entire Nordic-Baltic region has been inaugurated on the rocky  shoreline of the capital of this Swedish Baltic island of Gotland on July 6, 2011 – honoring the LGBT people persecuted, harassed, imprisoned and murdered over the centuries in this Nordic nation and around the globe.    
     This joins the growing number of LGBT monuments --  in Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona and other cities as well as former Nazi concentration camps  -- and has taken place during the giant political and human (rights week Almedalen – the biggest   Continued on page 3)   

New ILGCN Art & Photo Secretariat 
  Posnan – Prof. Pawel Lezkowitz is the secretary general of the brand new ILGCN Art & Photo Secretariat – based in this Polish city and working together with our ILGCN colleagues in Denmark specializing in lesbian art.  He has also received the 2011 “Orfeo Imago” award for his outstanding publication of international LGBT works and curating a number of highly-praised LGBT art exhbiitions – including the pioneering “Ars Homo Erotica” at the National Art Museum in Warsaw during Europride.

  (continued from page 1) such event in the Swedish summer,  only a few steps from the annual International Square promoting global solidarity.

Left Party leader Lars Ohly (left) (Photo by Willi Reichhold)
   Speakers at the inauguration ceremony included Swedish Liberal Party parliamentarian, Barbro Westerholm, Swedish Left Party leader Lars Ohly, national Swedish LGBT organization RFSL chair, Ulrika Vesterlund,  head of the Swedish Red Cross – Gotland, Göran Wahlquist, Janne Nordquist of the Swedish national sexual education organization RFSU and head of Africa Groups – Gotland, and Bill Schiller of Tupilak (Nordic rainbow cultural workers).

     “We’ve come a long way since LGBT people in Sweden demonstrated against the old “sickness label” for homosexuality but we still have work to do – especially internationally,” says Barbro Westerholm.

     “This monument of stones is a good initiative to help make the persecution and violence against LGBT people visible -- but we must work to make this a permanent  tribute to the LGBT people in Sweden and around the world, ” says Lars Ohly.

  “This is a peoples’s monument – since both former and present Swedish governments have declined to support the idea.  Anyone can attack out stones…  any of us can rebuild them and add new stones .  We hope this will initiate others to create LGBT monuments elsewhere in the Nordic and Baltic region,” says Bill Schiller.

   The inauguration message reads:  “Slagna till Döds, Dödade med Tystnad.  Beaten to Death, Silenced to Death   …  in  honor of the lesbians, gays, trans and bisexual persons harassed, discriminated, beaten, arrested, imprisoned, executed by the state and murdered in the streets over the centuries – in Sweden, elsewhere in the Nordic region, and around the globe. “    

  The event is also supported by the Nordic Rainbow Humanists, the Nordic Rainbow Council, the Nordic-Polish-Baltic-Russian-Belarus Network and the ILGCN (International  Lesbian & Gay Network) Information Secretariat – Stockholm.

Christina Kjelsson
 Award to Swedish singer, musician, composer
Rainbows at Gothenburg Book Fair
   Gothenburg – At the 2011 Gothenburg Book and Library Fair in Setpeberm, the biggest annual cultural eent in the Nordic region – Tupilak and the ILGCN once again participated in human rights discussions and made stage presentations at the International Square – as well as presenting this year’s “Sowelu” Tupilak award for outstanding cultural contributions to Sweden’s Chritina Jkellsson, pionner singer, musican and composer whose works are often part of LGBT events in the Nordic region and beyond.

Malawi Humanist Receives Nordic Award
      Oslo – George Thindwa, leader of the Associatin for Secular Humanism in the southern African republic of Malawi, has received the 2011 Nordic Rainbow Humanist Award from the hands of the Nordic Rainbow Humanists’ Rolf Solheim of Norway at the International Humansit Conference held in the Norwegian capital.

   The award motivation cited  Thindwa’s and his colleagues courageous and public support of human rights and LGBT rights in defiance of the severe homophobia and public condemnation of rainbow rights and identity and government plans to worsen legislation concerning especially lesbian and other LGBT rights.

   Thindwa has also reported a dramtic encounter with with hunters in Malawi and his arrest for intervening on behalf ot he women persecuted in a witch hunt.

Thidwa protecting women accused of witch craft 

      "We were very happy to get this recommendation from an earlier prize winner, Leo Igwe and his colleagues of the Nigerian human movement, who was finally able to receive his award diploma in person at a GALHA ceremony in London in September (see Erato  May 2010) at an IDAHO event in the British capital in May," says Bill Schiller,  NRH international secretary.

  Earlier Nordic Rainbow Humanists awards have honored  outstanding contributions to LGBT human rights struggles from leading LGBT and heterosexual humanists in Britain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Romania.

Minsk Rainbow Meeting …
   (Continued from page 1) and co- operation.  "We were very pleased to have had this international inputw into our Belarus Pride,” says Natasha P. of the GayBelarus organization. “And to have once again Swedes joining us in Minsk!”
     Despite the ban on any Pride parade, Belarus and foreign LGBT visitors “outwalked” any potential homophobic followers through numerous city streets in different groups, jumped into vehicles and re-appeared in a distant suburb – unfurling rainbow flags, marching a short stretch in the streets and cheering the release of a giant rainbow banner carried to the skies by large helium-filled balloons – to the delight of a crowd of Belarus newspaper, radio and television journalists.

                                                     Interested and supportive Belarus media 

     “We wery pleased and surprised to see so many Belarus and Polish journalists present both at the GayBelarus office press conference and at the parade – and the positive response and intelligent questions – and great coverage in the media, ” maintains Bill Schiller, Swedish Radio journalist and international secretary of Tupilak (Nordic rainbow cultural workers). “And we are very happy that our 3-way meeting could be part of Belarus Pride – no doubt one of the most important Prides in Europe today.” 

     The meeting included country-be-country presentations, seminars and discussions, Swedish film screenings and music provided by well-known Belarus singers and musicians calling for democratic rule in this the last dictatorship in East Europe, as well as a musical and dance-filled performance by members of the internationally-famous Belarus Underground Theater – banned by the regime. 

     “Our meetings in Kiev and Minsk have been very beneficial and show what our organizations can learn from – and teach each other,” says Olena Shevchenko of the women’s organization Insight of Kiev, who also informed the delegates about the importance of working against the Ukrainian government’s and parliament’s plans to crack down on positive information about homosexuality.

      During the visit, the three national delegations also visited the office of the internationally-finance Belarus organization working with men having sex with men and combating HIV and AIDS.

    “These meetings have given us new inspiration on how to work in new ways for LGBT rights also using rainbow culture as a weapon against discrimination and phobias – including the discrimination of those with HIV and AIDS,” says Taras L. of the Men’s Alliance – Kiev.
The visit also included displays of art and photo exhibitions from Tupilak and the ILGCN (International queer cultural network) which has works from nearly 40 nations and now has new brand donations from the Ukraine and Belarus.

                                     More Belarus photos and art work on the way 

    “I was very impressed with the international exhibit and will create a special Belarus exhibition at our next event” says journalist/photographer Alexander P. also editor of the biggest LGBT website in Belarus,.

      “We are working out plans for long-term Swedish-Belarus-Ukrainian rainbow co-operation – with our next event scheduled for June 1-2, 2012 in the Crimean port of Semiez,” says Slava Bortnik from Belarus Amnesty International and his nation’s second city, Gomel. “Overcoming the isolation of LGBT people in Belarus is crucial for our survival.”

   “We hope that the Swedish Institute will continue to provide assistance to make this future human rights and rainbow cultural co-operation possible between East and West,” concludes Bill Schiller, project co-ordinator.

Stockholm:  Special input from Ukraine and Hungary 
Olena Shevchnko in Stockholm (Photos by Jussi  of Finland)
Part of Budapest Trio
"Nordic Fire” Salute to East Europeans 

   Stockholm -- The first Nordic Fire on Eastern European Rainbow Barricades festival took place in the Swedish capital November 25-27, 2011 with invited guests from Ukraine and Hungary as well as presentations on LGBT situations in Belgrade, Minsk, Riga, Helsinki and Bucharest.

      "We are fighting against the same law proposal against positive information about homosexuality now spreading to more Russian provinces," says Olena Shevchenko of the women's organization, Insight - Kiev, new ILGCN (international rainbow cultural network) cultural ambassador from Ukraine.

    Folk and classic music, song, and dance was provided at several of the festival venues by Tamás Lovas,Károly Varga and Sándor Fehér of the Continuo Trio of Budapest, the ILGCN cltural ambassadors of Hungary.
     "We are working with LGBT groups in St. Petersburg and in the Balkans, and hope more Helsinki Human Rights Committees in other countries will join us in work with LGBT human rights," says Peter Öholm ofCivil Rights Defenders (formally the Swedish Helsinki Human Rights Committee).

                               Tupilak and ILGCN awards for Swede, Poles

    At the Nordic Fire session at the CRD offices in the Stockholm Gamla Stan island, Swedish Liberal Party parliamentarian Barbro Westerholm received the annual Tupilak "Bifrost" awards honoring heterosexual bridge-builders uniting the LGBT and the heterosexual communities both in Sweden and abroad. 

   The Polish Institute - Stockholm received the annual ILGCN "Rainbow Iceberg" award for promoting Polish and Swedish LGBT cultural exchange and for bringing Polish LGBT women and men to different Swedish Pride events and for promoting Polish and international art exhibitions and publications.

    "Thanks for this fine award. This appreciation for our work with this fanatic and moving motivation really means a lot to us," says Michal Piotrowski, project leader at the Polish Institute.

    Also at the CRD, Bill Schiller described the long history of Tupilak & ILGCN involvement with Eastern European colleagues and the emphasis on mutual exchange. "We were very impressed with the mutual interaction of LGBT groups in the Ukraine and Belarus with our Swedish groups," says Schiller over the recent 3-nation meetings in Kiev and Minsk made possible with support from the Swedish Institute -- the official body promoting international co-operation.

    RFSL chairperson Ulrika Westerlund also described the national Swedish LGBT organization's extensive international work with the Baltic states, Uganda and elsewhere, "The situation in Latvia is hardly easy and even those few open LGBT activists don't get much support from often very critical LGBT colleagues," says Kjell Rindar, former RFSL chairman and teacher at Latvian universities.

    "We are very happy to have had the financial support of ROHS (Swedish national LGBT solidarity organization) to make this min-festival "between" Stockholm Prides possible," says Bill Schiller, international secretary of Tupilak (Nordic rainbows cultural workers) and secretary general of the ILGCN'sInformation Secretariat in Stockholm.

     Alexander L. described the turbulent situation and extensive homophobia Serbian. (Belgrade is to be the site of one of the stages of next year's ILGCN world conference, along with Rio de Janeiro and the Crimean town of Seimiz.) while Finnish photographer Jussi Jässkeläinen described his work with Bucharest and Helsinki Prides.

                               Films, Music, Photography, Discussions at Posithivagruppen 

   "We are pleased to have another Tupilak event at our premises," states Ola Ståhle of thePosithivagruppen (HIV positive men having sex with men) office, and we are happy to have colleagues from the Baltic states at our summer camps and hope to join in future Tupilak and ILGCN exchanges in Eastern Europe."

    Films by Swedish Tupilak member Willi Reichhold described the recent Swedish-Ukrainian-Belarussolidarity visit to Kiev, the summer inauguration ceremony in Visby of the first Nordic LGBT monument on the shoreline of the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland and the"Global Survival" journey of plants and human beings in harsh conditions around the world.

    Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic and Eastern European works from the Tupilak & ILGCN Travelling Art & Photography Exhibition were displayed at all the festival venues including new photo series from Belarus and  the Ukraine, and LGBT CD music from Poland and the Nordic nations were played at festival venues as well.

    Other foreign visitors taking part in discussions at the CRD office, the Bio RioPosithivagruppen and the LGBT cultural center Hallongrottan came from Norway, Finland, Kenya and Somalia.

                                        Next stop: Estonia, Russia, Belarus 

     "We hope the next Nordic Fire festival in Stockholm at the end of next March or April  will focus on Swedish and Nordic LGBT co-operation with EstoniaRussia and Belarus," concludes Bill Schiller. "Once again we'll ask our Tupilak colleagues and the national LGBT organizations in the Nordic region to join us. We hope the Nordic Fire festival can be duplicated elsewhere in the Nordic region -- and we'll discuss this at coming Nordic-Baltic-Polish-Russian-Belarus Rainbow Network meetings coming up in Stockholm and other Nordic capitals during 2012."


ILGCN Secretariats    
Information: Stockholm
New: Art & Photography   Poznan  
Literature: London   istewart@alumni.sfu. ca   
History: Minneapolis      
Eastern Europe: Istanbul/Ankara
Film & Film Festivals:   Riga    

North America:    Toronto   michaelgfroerer@yahoo. ca.                                  
 ILGCN World Rainbow Culture Conference stages 2012

1st stage: Simeiz, Crimea  June 1-3
2nd stage  Belgrade (date coming)
3rd stage Rio de Janeiro (date coming)