EL*C Internal Guidance Paper on inclusion and diversity

Alliances with trans activists

Lesbians have historically been at the forefront of struggles against the policing of bodies and political oppression of self-determination. Leading the fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights – notably abortion rights, alongside straight women, joining in the fight against AIDS with gay men, being part of the black lives matter movement against racism and racially motivated police violence, as well as supporting the fight for trans persons’ rights and ending a system of gender dichotomy. The diverse lesbian and trans communities are strong allies. We know we have common adversaries that threaten and strategically attack our fundamental rights.

EL*C is very concerned about attempts to erase the historical legacy of mutual alliance and support. Our conference, our board and our movement are open to all those who are committed to fighting for the rights, the visibility and the well-being of lesbians, regardless of gender identity.

We are determined not to give in to the unscrupulous and hideous attempts to divide the lesbian movement, and more broadly the LGBTIQ+ movement, through controversies that only serve the interest of our common detractors/opponents, and derail us from our mission. We are proud to welcome everyone at EL*C and remain true to the spirit of our “lesbian pioneers” who have been allies to other emancipatory social and political movements that strive for freedom from oppression.

Our values

#INCLUSION: As already firmly stated in EL*C’s first concept note, our aim is to hold an inclusive European lesbian conference. We insist on calling it a lesbian conference although we recognize that, as with any category or label, it may be contested and insufficient to describe the diversity of our communities. We are aware that many previous lesbian gatherings have struggled with issues about who should or should not be included at the conference. However, using the word “lesbian” is part of the political struggle for visibility, empowerment and representation. We therefore use “lesbian*” with an asterisk, so as to include also those who identify as lesbian, bi, trans, intersex or queer, and others who feel connected and committed to lesbian* activism.

#RESPECT: EL*C recognises the variety of positions, strategies, and struggles that coexist within our movement and among the broad and diverse community that we look to support. Above all, as the movement is being built, we care to create a climate of mutual respect and trust, where constructive conversations can be held and opinions can be allowed to evolve, in a spirit of sisterhood and without judgment. In this light, EL*C supports the right to self-determination of trans women who are part of our unified movement.

#REPRESENTATION: EL*C fights for the rights, the visibility, as well as the safety and well-being of lesbians in Europe and Central Asia. Our movement is diverse in many respects, starting with the fact that it covers a large geographical scope from Western Europe to Central Asia, where lesbians, their organisations and their families, are faced with very different realities, needs and challenges. It is also an intersectional movement, which strives to secure space and representation for lesbians of all ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, disabled or not, of all ages, nationalities, etc. We also acknowledge the instrumental role that segregated spaces have played historically, and continue to play today, in providing the necessary platforms for LGBTIQ+ and feminist movements to regroup and for diverse voices to emerge. As such, within the broader European lesbian movement, we recognize the need of lesbians and of women to meet and organise based on their defined needs and identities.

TIME TO BE UNITED: Keeping in mind the political context in many European and Central Asian countries faced with the rise and pressure of anti-gender narratives and policies, it is more important than ever that lesbians remain united and that we forge robust relations based on solidarity and mutual respect with other LGBTIQ, feminist and emancipatory networks.