Being LGBTI in North-West Russia – hopes for the future!

Have you ever wondered about how it is to be Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) right across the border from Kirkenes?

You hear about concentration camps for gay men in Chechnya, and laws that criminalize so-called homosexual propaganda, but does this really tell you much about the people living only a short drive away?

In this panel discussion you can meet activists from Murmansk, Moscow and Norway, who will talk about the challenges for LGBTI persons in North-West Russia. Does it differ a lot from the rest of Russia? How different is it really from Norway? How can people cooperate across the border to create a better future?

The activist Valentina Likhoshva and journalist Elena Kostuchenko will share their experiences about working for the rights of LGBTI-persons in North West Russia, and inspire you to become a changemaker in your local community.

Rune Rafaelsen (Labour), mayor of the municipality of Sør-Varanger, and Lene Wetteland, head of the Russia Department in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, will talk about the need for cross-border cooperation and the important role of civil society on both sides of the border in the north.

This debate is part of the project Barents Exchange, which is a cooperation between FRI – Foreningen for kjønns- og seksualitetsmangfoldNorwegian Helsinki Committee, Skeiv Verden and Amnesty International Norway. Between thursday 21 and sunday 24 of September – be ready for exhibitions, debates, parties and not the least Solidaritetsparade i Kirkenes, to celebrate diversity and express solidarity between Norwegian and Russian believers in equal rights for all.

Participants in the panel discussion:

• Valentina Likhoshva, psychologist and LGBT-activist. She works at the Regional Group for Support of LGBT Community “Maximum” in Murmansk, Russia.

• Elena Kostuchenko is an investigative reporter for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Elena has been assaulted and arrested on several occasions in retribution for her journalism and activism.

• Lene Wetteland, Senior Adviser and Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Russia department.

•Rune Rafaelsen (Labour), mayor of the municipality of Sør-Varanger.

Moderator: Patricia Kaatee, Amnesty International in Norway

The discussion will have Norwegian/Russian translation

For information about everything that will happen in Kirkenes these coming days:ærlighet-kjenner-ingen-grenser