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NELFA NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2021
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NELFA
Network of European LGBTIQ* Families Associations
 
NEWSLETTER No. 17 - FEBRUARY 2021
NELFA's 17th newsletter is out - delayed due to the corona crisis... but again bursting with information about recent activities in our Network and important news about LGBTIQ* families, allies and supporters. Enjoy reading!
INTRODUCTION
BRUSSELS, 08 FEBRUARY 2021: A very late Happy New Year! Well, it is not so easy to pronounce it, right? In the middle of this weird pandemic, in lock- or shutdowns, so many infected people, seriously ill, so many dead. At least, vaccinations are in progress. And, finally, Trump is out. Happy new year? Human rights have been - again - frequently trampled over around the globe, LGBTIQ* rights are - more than usual - at stake, even within the EU. Really hard times. What to expect in 2021? The EP's Petition Commitee will discuss several petitions of rainbow families in March, accompanied by a new survey among Member States. The European Court of Justice will decide on an important case of a rainbow family. And we still wait for additional judgments at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. So, yes, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let's stay optimistic, let's applaud for the little steps forward. NELFA will be there for you in 2021, to advance the rights of LGBTIQ* parents and their children. Yes, we want to see and meet us again, hug each other. We will... after some more weeks of skyping, zooming and interacting via social media... let's hope for a better future, let's stand up for a better future!
NELFA HIGHLIGHTS

NELFA is looking forward to the upcoming hearing at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Already on 9th of February, the ECJ will discuss the case of a lesbian couple (women from Bulgaria and Gibraltar) and their little daughter "Sara". The child is at risk to remain stateless because of the non-recognition of the familial ties to the mothers. You can find more information here. In addition, ILGA-Europe published a podcast, a media report and a press release (pic 1: ILGA). NELFA's Board member Denitsa Lyubenova and her predecessor Veneta Limberova (pic 2) from Deystvie in Bulgaria take care of the case. We expect a highly important judgment for rainbow families within the EU. In December, a similar case reached the ECJ. It's about a (temporarily) stateless child of an Irish-Polish couple. The case is actually blocked in Luxembourg because of the similar Bulgarian hearing.

NELFA's tireless efforts bear fruit: Our demands play an important role in the first-ever Commission's LGBTIQ Equality strategy, launched on 12th of November 2020 (see the first photo with Commissioner Helena Dalli). It contains a range of proposals concerning rainbow families in cross-border situations, for example the review of the existing guidelines and a horizontal legislative initiative in 2022 for the mutual recognition of family relations within the EU. It follows the key words of Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen ("If you are a parent in one country, you are - of course - a parent in every country") (2nd pic). NELFA is impressed by the strong strategy and grateful to all people involved. Read NELFA’s press release (incl. worrying news from Hungary). (photo 1: www.pes.eu; photo 2: EU Commission)

Twelve months after the first launch, NELFA and the LGBTIQ* petition platform All Out have finished the campaign “freedom of movement for rainbow families”. It was updated in October 2020 and was also available in new languages, German, Italian, French and Spanish. The campaign will be closed, because it reached its main aim: The EU Commission will take care of rainbow families in cross-border struggles within the current legislature - see above. Thank you to all involved for nearly 25.000 signatures which will be delivered to Brussels! (collage: All Out)

NELFA is very happy to show the first winners of our rainbow family drawing contest! These are wonderful artists from France, Poland and Spain! Thank you also to those from Austria, Greece and the Netherlands! CONGRATULATIONS and have fun with your gender-neutral dolls, sponsored by Mattel. Thank you for this opportunity to highlight family diversity! We will keep all the drawings and send them to Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels for her recent commitment. (collage: NELFA)

NELFA invites its members to the Annual General Meeting 2021. It's going to be held on Saturday, 13th of March 2021 from 10:00 CET. Due to the ongoing COVID restrictions across Europe, we have decided to organize the AGM online as we did last year. The current Executive Board will provide the mandatory documents soon. And: Full members should consider naming new candidates! (collage: NELFA)

NELFA ACTIVITIES

BRUSSELS, 29 September 2020: NELFA took part in the 13th European Forum on the Rights of the Child, which was held online until 1st of October 2020. In panel debates and workshops on inclusive education or fundamental rights, also LGBTIQ* issues were discussed. NELFA provided its expertise in the process of developing the EU #ChildGuarantee. In late 2020, our Network joined a submission for the EU strategy on the rights of the child. It was elaborated by ILGA-Europe, TGEU, OII, IGLYO and NELFA Board member Fabien Gaudry. (graphic: EU Commission)

BRUSSELS, 03 October: COFACE Families Europe issued its newsletter and this time, NELFA Bord Member Björn Sieverding (LSVD) contributed with a commentary on the recognition of rainbow families in the EU. NELFA is supporting member of COFACE. You can find the article here. Some days before (28 September), NELFA Board member Christoph R. Alms participated at COFACE's General Assembly in Berlin (online), where i.e. a new strategy was discussed. (photo: COFACE)

BRUSSELS, 19-23 October 2020: Due to the corona pandemic, ILGA-Europe's Annual Conference in Sofia was cancelled. However, NELFA Board members took part at the alternative "Gathering Online". The online conference explored what is at stake for LGBTIQ* people and the movement in Europe and Central Asia at the moment, and identified ways forward for us as individuals, as organisations, and as communities. There are still some videos online. Read more. (graphic: ILGA-Europe)

BERLIN, 18-19 November 2020: NELFA was invited to a major digital conference of the German EU presidency - #lgbticonferenceberlin2020. President Eleni Maravelia and Board member Björn Sieverding contributed to the panel “Challenges and Steps Ahead: Towards the full recognition of Rainbow Families Across the European Union?”. The other speakers came from the Council of Europe (Eleni Tsestekou), the EU Commission (Maria Vilar-Badia) and the EP's Intergroup on LGBTI Rights (Marc Angel). Moderator of the panel was Professor Alina Tryfonidou from Reading University. NELFA shared a new presentation. Read more. (collage: NELFA)

BERLIN, 26 November 2020: NELFA Board member Björn Sieverding (LSVD) took part at a webinar, organised by the European Academy and the Foreign Ministry. It was entitled: “Europarat mit Tat” and it was about perspectives of LGBTIQ* families and their rights in the framework of the Council of Europe. NELFA offered a presentation (in German) about rainbow families in Europe. (photo: LSVD)

NELFA NEWS

DUBLIN, 07 October: An Irish lesbian couple who conceived through Reciprocal IVF have become the first to receive their declaration of parentage by the State in Bray District Court. Ranae von Meding, CEO of Equality For Children, shared, “This will come as a huge relief to those who have become parents to their children through this method of Assisted Human Reproduction. It is one more family who finally have security and recognition.” Read more. (photo: www.gcn.ie)


VENICE, 14 October: A court ruled in favour of a lesbian couple from Verona. Their two children will be recognised as siblings. According to (former) Italian law, the children would remain legal strangers, because they were born by different mothers and same-sex parenthood is not (directly) accepted. Read more (photo 1: www.gay.it). On 15th of November, the Brescia court decided on the recognition of co-motherhood, even though the State doesn’t allow fertility treatment for same-sex couples abroad. The judgment is in opposition to Supreme Court rulings in April. Read more. NELFA's member Famiglie Arcobaleno has started a campaign to support the full recognition of rainbow families in Italy. (photo: www.gaypost.it)

TALLINN, 19 October: The Estonian Greens have started a petition to amend the Family Act, to stop discrimination against LGBTIQ* couples and families. Goals are i.e. to achieve marriage equality (“union between two adults, regardless of their gender”) and equal treatment for same-sex parents. The campaign has collected more than 35.000 signatures. Read more. On 14th of January 2021, the Estonian Parliament voted against a controversial marriage referendum bill. The question was if the term "marriage" should be used for unions between men and women only. This means, the referendum won't take place in April. Read more. (photo: Mana Kaasik)

VATICAN, 21 October: Pope Francis gave an interview for the documentary film “Francesco” (directed by Evgeny Afineevsky) and he made an interesting quote regarding LGBTIQ* rights: “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. […] What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.” Read more. However... what to expect in the future from the Catholic Church? An article of the German international broadcaster "Deutsche Welle" comments, "At least the pope is consistent in his inconsistency". Read more. (photo: G. Mangiapane/Reuters)

BUCHAREST, 28 October: The EU Commission has started an infringement procedure against Romania because of the non-implementation of the Coman judgment from 2018 (the term “spouse” includes same-sex spouses under EU law). It’s a success of NELFA’s supporting member Asociatia Accept. Read more. NELFA welcomes also the decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania, which ruled that the law prohibiting education about sex, gender and gender identity is unconstitutional. Read written comments (amicus) by ILGA-Europe, together with Asociatia Accept and TGEU. (photo 1: Accept Romania, photo 2: ILGA-Europe)

HAMBURG, 05 November: The newspaper “Die Zeit” published a map where exactly in Germany same-sex marriages were concluded. In January 2021, media reported on the number of same-sex marriages since October 2017: more than 70.000! However, for married lesbian couples it's still necessary (for the non-biological mother) to start a stepchild adoption procedure in order to become legally recognised. On 12th of Januarya court in Celle heard the case of a couple from Hildesheim (#PaulaHatZweiMamas). Read more. At least, after a separation, non-biological have the right to see their kids. This was ruled in Braunschweig on 13th of November. The situation i.e. in Italy is more complicated. Read about a decision on 28th of January here. (photo 1: Die Zeit, photo 2: Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte)
 
RIGA, 12 November 2020: The Constitutional Court in Latvia had received an appeal from a mother whose female partner was unable to receive the ten-day parental leave which is to be granted to the child’s father. The Court said that the Constitution sets the state’s obligation to protect the family of same-sex partners as well. Read more. However, the opposition is still strong. On 14th of January, the Parliament discussed a proposal to amend the Constitution, to stipulate that the concept of a ‘family’ is based on a union between a man and a woman. Read an article and a reaction of the EP’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights. (photo: AFP)


PARIS, 04 December 2020: The National Assembly voted on new rules for adoptions. They will be open for non-married couples. Lesbian mothers will have an easier way to be legally recognised and family diversity will be strengthened in the general procedure. Read an article and a press release of our French member apgl. Rainbow families in France still wait for the decision to open ART for lesbian couples and single women. A recent vote in the Senate on 4th of February 2021 was against the project. Read more. But, and this is reassuring, the National Assembly is still in favour of the regulation. (photo: Juliane Liebermann/ Unsplash)


BUDAPEST, 15 December 2020: The Hungarian Parliament has passed a law effectively banning same-sex couples from adopting children. This was put forward by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government says only married couples can adopt, with some exceptions for single relatives of the child. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Hungary, but adoption has been possible if one partner applies on their own. Read more. After the first announcement, NELFA had released a press statement, together with the Hungarian member Háttér. (photo: Council of the EU)


BERN, 19 December 2020: It was an early Christmas present for the Swiss LGBTIQ* movement! The Parliament finally approved the marriage equality bill and we congratulate our friends at Dachverband Regenbogenfamilien, NELFA’s member in Switzerland! There will be still a referendum before the law will come into effect. But this seems to be a matter of form. (photo: Dachverband Regenbogenfamilien)

ZAGREB, 08 January 2021:  The recent verdict, delivered by the County Court, is a success for NELFA’s member Dugine obitelij. The group had filed a lawsuit against Vigilare for launching a petition called “Stop state TV’s homo-propaganda. Let’s stop fake rainbows, let’s protect children and the family!”. Vigilare has to remove all discriminatory content from their website. Read more. (photo: Josip Regovic, Pixsell)

PRAGUE, 11 January 2021: The Constitutional Court does not recognise the adoptions of a gay couple (the men are from Czechia and Trinidad & Tobago). The two kids (American nationality) were adopted via court decision in New Jersey (USA). A regional court in Nymburk didn’t accept the ruling and this decision was now backed by the judges – because same-sex partners are not allowed to adopt children in the Czech Republic. Read more (in German). According to NELFA's supporting member Prague Pride, the case is ongoing. Possibly, the lawyer will bring it to the European Courts in Strasbourg and/or Luxembourg. (photo: AdobeStock)

NELFA INPUT
DUBLIN, 03 September 2020: A creative agency in Ireland teamed up with Belong To, the national organisation supporting LGBTIQ* young people, to deliver a new campaign. The main aim is to help children to learn the colours of the rainbow with an inclusive message around diversity and equality. Read more. (graphic: RtR)
OXFORD, 28 September 2020: Children raised by same-sex parents from birth perform better at school than those raised by different-sex partners. According to a study carried out by researchers at Oxford University (Deni Mazrekaj, in the photo) and Maastricht University, children in rainbow families perform better at both primary and secondary education. Read a corresponding article (in English). (photo: via Twitter)
MADRID, 06 November: Best practice! The Spanish media platform “freeda” published a nice interview with Gabriel who is a young man raised by two gay dads. One of his fathers is NELFA’s Board member Jesús Santos Homobono (Galehi). Gabriel was already several times a real ambassador for rainbow families. Read and - in particular - see more. (photo: freeda_es)
BRUSSELS, 12 November 2020: We already highlighted the first-ever EU Commission's LGBTIQ Equality strategy. One of the main pillars is the protection of rainbow families. There will be i.e. a legislative initiative in 2022 for the mutual recognition of family relations in the EU. NELFA will stay in close contact to the institutions to put words into action. (photo: EU Commission)
BRUSSELS, 17 December 2020: COFACE Families Europe announced a new webinar series, entitled "Breakfast Bytes". The monthly online meetings spread knowledge and put the spotlights on different family supports. The target group is especially professionals working with families and children. Read more and register here. The next Breakfast Bytes will take place on 16th of February 2021. (graphic: COFACE)

KOBLENZ, 14 January 2021: German historian Kirsten Plötz has published a new study about lesbian mothers in Rhineland Palatinate who lost their custody rights after their divorce. The Green Minister for Family Affairs, Anne Spiegel, apologised for the discrimination in 40 years. Read the more about the study and another article (in German). (graphic: Dr. Kirsten Plötz)

VIENNA, 04 February 2021: Austrian researcher Magdalena Siegel and her colleagues revealed in a new comparative study of 55 old and new scientific papers that rainbow families suffer from the lack of legislation. The missing framework (i.e. for the full recognition) touches parents and children deeply. Read more. The study was awarded by Pride Biz Austria. (graphic: ggg.at) 
PICTURE OF THE MONTH
In January 2021, NELFA asked its membership and Facebook community to send some nice photos. You find some very cute examples below! And we hope for other pics. Just send them to info@nelfa.org!
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