Introduction to the theme
Building Alliances. Preventing Exclusion and Bias-motivated Crime against LGBT* People. Violence Prevention between Self-help and Professionalism.
Speeches, workshops and exchange – knowledge, findings and experience from science and practice.
The International MANEO Conference Berlin (IMC 2017) will take place on 30 November and 1 December 2017 under the theme of “Building Alliances. Prevent Exclusion and bias-motivated crimes against LGBT*. Violence prevention between self-help and professionalism.”
A democracy is characterised by basic values such as equal rights and diversity: we’re all different but of equal value, and equal before the law. A democracy must be ‘lived’ and defended in order for these principles to be effective. Enlightenment and education are part of this, as are prosecution and prevention, as are exchange, networks and alliances. Gay-straight alliances set positive signals in order to link people with each other on the basis of their sexual orientations and identities. A ‘gay-straight alliance’ (GSA) is a US American term for a union of LGBT* and heterosexual (straight) people who show solidarity and work together. This is necessary due to the fact that LGBT* people continue to face exclusion, discrimination and violence, both in our democratic societies and internationally – in Germany, Europe and worldwide.
Our conference will focus on three thematic areas in which gay-straight alliances must prove themselves: firstly, in the dialogue between criminal prosecution bodies and LGBT* people; secondly, in local crime-prevention measures relating to risks and dangers; and finally in the exchange of experience, information and ideas between commerce and anti-violence projects regarding the development of effective measures to construct gay-straight alliances. The conference aims to bring together experts in the field and exchange experience, information and ideas about ‘best practice’ models and to find a way of making this work more professional. Our goal is to use the results to promote and develop our work.
Our expert conference will be looking at three key themes.
1. Theme (Panel 1) The relationship between police LGBT* liaison officers and LGBT* anti-violence projects
The relationship between LGBT* people and criminal prosecution bodies is still a difficult one, even in democratic societies. Bridges facilitating continuous working relationships and communication are more the exception than the rule. Where they exist, social changes in relation to tolerance and acceptance of sexual minorities or even current events are registered as a seismographic movements or even upheavals. Ultimately, it is target group-specific gay, lesbian, trans* or LGBT* anti-violence projects (AVPs) on the one hand and LGBT* liaison officers at criminal prosecution bodies on the other that provide stability and development, but only if their work is organised along specialist and professionally qualified lines that take the sub-text of interdisciplinary challenges into account. Continuous dialogue and permanent monitoring of knowledge and deficits promote knowledge transfer, trust and the understanding of change, and thereby promote progress in the combating and prevention of homophobic and trans*phobic prejudice-motivated crime (e.g. in training; recognition and recording; efficiency in violence and crime prevention; and victim support work).
The knowledge collected by both AVPs and LGBT* liaison officers at criminal prosecution bodies, in some cases over decades, must be passed on to successors or people in newly created posts in order to ensure work quality and continue the dialogue.
Does it make sense to appoint LGBT* liaison officers at police forces and also to develop and promote LGBT* AVPs? What role do they play as target group-specific posts in the collaboration between LGBT* scenes and police? What can they actually do for the target groups as dialogue partners? How can their work become more professional and thereby offer enhanced quality and continuity?
2. Theme (Panel 2): Target group-specific violence and crime prevention as a community task
Democratic societies are in constant change. The more stable a society’s democratic principles, the more vibrantly members of a society can live together in a spirit of diversity and tolerance. However, basic values and freedoms must be constantly defended against inequality-based ideologies and misanthropic hate crime. Continued exclusion and prejudice-motivated crime, i.e. all forms of group-focused hate crime, can destabilise democracies and split societies, which is why the fight against prejudice-motivated hate crime is society-wide task. Criminal prosecution can act as a protective shield for human rights.
The fight against prejudice-motivated violence against LGBT* people is then also a communal task. Responsibility for it must not be ‘delegated away’ to LGBT* groups. Violence and crime-prevention measures must be jointly developed and involve LGBT* events and venues, for example in the form of neighbourhood-based crime-prevention work (‘community policing’). Measures should take the criminal prosecution of homophobic and trans*phobic prejudice-motivated crime into account and also tackle risks and dangers. How seriously a local authority takes this is shown in its engagement.
LGBT* people and groups have regularly criticised the absence of public awareness and the lack of interest shown especially by local authorities. In Germany, the lack of any official reaction to “Orlando” became measurable evidence of this.
How can a contribution be made to help turn violence and crime prevention into a community task in and for LGBT* scenes? Which measures seem sensible in relation to risks and dangers? How can professionalism, quality and continuity be promoted among LGBT* liaison officers?
3. Theme (Panel 3): Empowerment and gay-straight alliances
With the aim of fighting and overcoming homophobia and trans*phobia as well as prejudice-motivated violence against LGBT* people, empowerment measures set out to boost self-confidence and action competence / coping skills among LGBT* people so that they make use of their guaranteed rights. Gay-straight alliances are formed in many areas to promote empowerment, solidarity and prevention, but they are also intended to send a clear, visible signal to people who think they can discriminate and ostracise people on account of their sexual orientation. Alliances develop on various levels, for example in schools, in sport, or as diversity groups in companies.
In contrast to self-chosen social groups, in the world of free commerce many different people have to get along with each other. Many large commercial enterprises have realised that mutual respect among employees of different identities produces a good working environment and is therefore good for business. Many companies are therefore keen to promote knowledge of diversity and in doing so improve the in-house atmosphere in their organisations. They support internal communication and network building as well as external activities. In-house LGBT* networks or their visible presence at LGBT* events are part of this.
In this context, the focus is on companies’ measures and strategies that are able to address people and develop network building in the form of gay-straight alliances. It is about exchanging experience of effective measures that support solidarity and promote tolerance with commercial enterprises.
How should alliances work and which measures are needed in companies so that gay-straight-alliances can be developed? What perspectives are needed in relation to continuity and professionalism so that they can be implemented and asserted? Which measures have proven to be ‘best practice’ in the commercial sector?