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LGBT+ community: “We are part of everyday society“

©  Daniel James

LGBT+ Leadership Summit at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention discusses achievements – and the work still ahead

“We have already reached many goals in the LGBT+ community. In many parts of the world we find general acceptance, anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage – but how far have we really come?“, was the question that moderator David Downing from United Landmark Associates asked the panel. There was still considerable discrimination in everyday life, at the workplace and on trips to many places around the world, including Europe, he said. All those taking part in the discussion concluded that it had to become easier to out oneself at the workplace. Ultimately, companies were a mirror image of society.

DJ Doran, president of Aequalitasmedia and co-initiator of the brand Outvoices in the US, said that one could not generalise, as there were big differences between East and West (and not only there). “We have to emphasise our everyday image more, as lawyers, pilots, chefs, hard-working members of the population, who are not just obsessed by fashion“, DJ Doran said. “We are part of everyday society – we need to show that more often.“ It would then be easier for people to get rid of their prejudices and recognise LGBT+ members for what they are: normal people. He hoped that with the new US president things would calm down now and one could get back to work.

Annette Pampel, senior P & C consultant, Diversity People Culture for Coca-Cola European Partners Germany, cautioned that societies were complex. In every country there were big differences between city and rural life, and in some countries there were various written and unwritten laws. In a world in which a woman still had to think twice about outing herself at the workplace it was necessary to follow examples. There are many gay white people in executive positions too. Pampel: “We have to look at all people and give them a voice.“

Fabienne Stordiau, co-founder of GGLBC e.V. and member of the German LGBTIQ+ Chamber of Commerce, added that while there were indeed differences, including and excluding people was an individual choice. “Above all, we have to talk about privilege“, said Stordiau, who lives in Cologne. There were stark differences even within the LBGT+ community. Here too, there was a patriarchy that had to be brought down.

Pavel Subrt, co-founder of East meets West, lives in Vienna and described his situation thus: “We have achieved everything here“ – even if he knew that was not true. However, his partner was from Slovakia. Things were a lot different for homosexual couples there, only 30 kilometres from where he lived. In that sense he did indeed feel privileged. However, he was convinced that everyone could be an ambassador for the values they felt were important.

Martina Kohlhuber, chair of Gay Games 2026 München e.V., feels it is her responsibility and that of her co-campaigners to tear down barriers for the next generation. However, she noted that younger people had no interest in joining a cause. “Once a year they turn up at a  pride parade, but otherwise they barely get involved“, Kohlhuber said, somewhat mystified. “Perhaps young people make use of other channels?“

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