Nationalists around the world are currently attacking many of the rights that I am fighting for. They want to limit LGBT rights, women’s rights, the rights of migrants and the rights of different minority groups. They try to silent peace activists and feminists.
This development makes me scared, but at the same time I’m even more convinced about the need to find ways for groups and people targeted by nationalists to gather in resistance. A broad movement working against nationalism and for a world where human rights are not limited and reserved for a few.
But the road ahead is long, which is something I’ve been reminded of recently, during meetings with peace- and women’s rights activists from Serbia and LGBT activists from South Caucasus.
Last week, eight LGBT activists from South Caucasus visited Kvinna till Kvinna’s office in Stockholm. They represent organisations that work for LGBT persons’ human rights in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Activists from Georgia told us that some neo-nazi groups are very active in their country. Only a few days ago one of these attacked immigrants. The nationalists – alongside with the Orthodox Church – also have a strong influence on the politicians in power.
Severe attacks against LGBT activists
Both in Georgia and Armenia there have been severe attacks against LGBT activists during the last years. Two examples are ultra nationalists’ fire bombing of a gay bar in Yerevan and the priest-led, violent counter-demonstration against LGBT activists who tried to hold a manifestation on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) in Georgia.
“This is rapidly and steadily becoming a … not so nice place, in terms of human rights”, said one of the Georgian LGBT activists who visited Kvinna till Kvinna.
In Azerbaijan, things might look quieter on the surface. Not because there is a lack of problems, rather because the government wont accept any kind of civil rights movement. No demonstrations or street actions are allowed. “Nice place to live!” one of the activists exclaimed with a tired laugh.
Leaving aside the violent attacks and the repression from governments, nationalists and religious groups, the LGBT activists from South Caucasus have also met resistance within networks and communities that claim to promote human rights. Their hope for change lies in the younger generation, which they feel are generally more open regarding LGBT issues.
When I listened to our guests and the challenges they face, I was reminded of another meeting with Serbian activists, who recently visited Sweden to exchange knowledge about the work against nationalism and racism. Although the contexts are different, there are some clear similarities in how nationalists around the world try to push forward an agenda filled with conservatism, intolerance and inequality. Or, as the Serbian activists put it; nationalism leaves no room for minorities.
That makes me think about the importance of having a broad perspective when working for strengthened rights for women, LGBT persons, migrants etc. Even if it’s not always possible to work together, there is always the possibility to acknowledge and encourage each others’ work, and stand in solidarity with each other. This is already happening in many places, but we need more of it. In Sweden as well as in the Balkans or South Caucasus.