Murmansk gets a house of equality

On 21 September, the opening of House of Equality in Murmansk marked another stage of Civil Rights Defenders´ work for LGBT rights in Russia. House of Equality is a project made possible due to a newly established cooperation between the LGBT organisation Maximum in Murmansk and Civil Rights Defenders.

Opening night at House of Equality in Murmansk Photo: Private

Opening night at House of Equality in Murmansk Photo: Private

The LGBT center House of Equality will be a judgment-free haven for the LGBT community in the region, where anyone can meet to discuss common issues. The project also aims at raising awareness on LGBT-rights through art exhibitions, sports events, seminars and workshops as well as capacity building to defend human rights in the area. The center is the first establishment of its kind in the town and will provide visitors with psychological aid and eventually also legal aid.

“In a small town, such as Murmansk, almost everyone knows one another and people are afraid of publicity about their sexual orientation at work and in other public places. The LGBT community is underground in fear of harassment and embarrassment. In the House of Equality everyone can integrate and become a full member of the society.” said Sergei Alexeenko, Head of the Maximum Board.

Opening night at House of Equality in Murmansk Photo: Private

Opening night at House of Equality in Murmansk Photo: Private

Civil Rights Defenders identified the need to expand its work to north-western Russia in 2010, two years into the cooperation with the LGBT-Network. In addition to the partnership with Maximum, Civil Rights Defenders also tightened its cooperation and officially became partners with Rakurs in Arkhangelsk earlier this year.

“It is essential to support and strengthen the LGBT community not only in big cities, but also in the regions. The LGBT-community in the regions often lack the same amount of resources and many LGBT persons move to the bigger cities since the stigma in smaller cities is usually greater. We hope that through our new partnerships we will be able to see positive outcome in these regions as well,” said Cecilia Rosing, Programme officer for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders.

The project with Rakurs also aims at raising awareness on LGBT-rights through various activities as well as towards capacity-building of the organisation. Rakurs planns to further accentuate the legal and psychological consultations to the LGBT community with a special focus on the needs of transgendered people, as this particular group usually is overlooked.

Although both organizations have made extensive efforts in improving the LGBT situation in the area, most of their work has been done on voluntary basis. To improve the rights of the LGBT community, the new partnerships and upcoming projects are aimed at strengthening the capacity and sustainability of the organizations, thus further strengthening the roles of these organizations in their respective communities.

To learn from other organisations and thereby strengthen their capacities, both Rakurs and Maximum have been invited to Sweden during Stockholm Pride to attend seminars and other events.

Categories: Achievements.
Tags: House of Equality, Maximum, Murmansk, and Rakurs.
Regions: Russia.