St. Peterburg LGBT organization
From Visibility to Equality
Website – http://www.comingoutspb.ru
Our vision is for a society freed from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics, and founded on respect for human rights.
Coming Out is the largest grassroots LGBT organization in Russia, with a wide base of LGBT community support. We work for universal recognition of human dignity and equal rights of all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) by lobbying and advocacy, awareness-raising and public campaigning, and providing psychological and legal support to LGBT. We base our work on principles of collaboration, visibility, and community involvement.
We believe that human rights have the highest value and that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, race, ethnicity or any other characteristic deserves respect.
Our work is based on the principles of nonviolence, non-provocation, lawfulness, network-building across civil society and community involvement. We are convinced that civil society can and should work constructively with the government in order to help it fulfill its obligations.
We listen to and appreciate the opinion of each member of the organization. We emphasize teamwork, mutual respect, and transparency of decision-making.
We seek to understand the needs of the LGBT community in order to provide appropriate services.
We are open to constructive dialogue with anyone who does not share our position.
We believe that we can succeed in creating a tolerant society only by joining our efforts with other people and organizations who share our vision and principles.
· To help society accept diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities, and free itself from fears and prejudices against LGBT people.
· To mobilize the LGBT community of St .Petersburg so that it becomes open, visible, and develops active citizenship.
· To help the city authorities fulfil their duties, with respect for human rights, to protect citizens from violence and discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic.
· Educating society and the LGBT community about legal, social and psychological aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity.
· Providing legal and psychological support for the LGBT community in St. Petersburg.
· Establishing conditions and opportunities for open cultural and social self-expression of the LGBT community of St. Petersburg.
· Lobbying and advocating of the LGBT community interests on the city level.
· Organizational developent and capacity building
Program: Advocacy and Lobbying
· To advocate for human rights in the area of gender relations at the municipal level and to lobby for the interests of LGBT community in the municipal and regional governing bodies.
· To increase visibility of LGBT community.
Target audience: society, municipal government
Description: Through this program, the organization conducts public demonstrations and rallies: International Day of Silence, International Day Against Homophobia, participation in the annual March Against Hate, organized by the human rights organization of St. Petersburg, and other events. It also organizes an annual informational campaign Week Against Homophobia and participates in the Week Against Xenophobia, organized by other human rights NGOs.
Regular monitoring of LGBT rights violations is conducted, results are published and distributed to municipal government bodies and human rights NGOs, city authority failures to permit LGBT street events and demonstrations are taken to court, discussions concerning LGBT rights are initiated with various municipal governing bodies, such as the St. Petersburg commissioner for human rights and various committiees of St. Petersburg.
In July 2011 Coming Out will participate in exchange program with German LSVD in Hamburg. Expected advocacy result is inclusion of LGBT-related topics in the official sister city exchange program between St. Petersburg and Hamburg.
Through Advocacy and Lobbying program, the organization also provides advocacy support for all other programs.
· Coming Out is the first organization in Russia officially registered by the government as LGBT without court intervention;
· Internet mass media coverage of Coming Out’s activities has grown to 30-100 articles per event in 2010 from 0-20 in 2009.
· The most massive LGBT public demonstrations in Russia, including the first officially sanctioned mass LGBT rally for IDAHO 2011 (150 participants);
· Growth of the organization’s authority as a source of information about LGBT community and problems concerning homophobia in Saint Petersburg for the mass media;
· Through this program, the organization collaborated with leading human rights organizations in Saint Petersburg.
Program: International Queer Culture Festival
· To promote understanding of tolerance and human rights through art and culture, encouraging artists to develop active citizenship
· To mobilize LGBT community in Saint Petersburg, encouraging open participation and integration into the social and cultural life of the city
· To increase visibility of LGBT issues in Saint Petersburg and Russia through involving social and cultural celebrities, public figures and other public opinion makers.
· To develop collaboration with other human rights organizations and businesses in Saint Petersburg.
Target Audience: society, LGBT community
Description: Founded on the ideas of tolerance and respect for diversity, the Festival provides a platform unifying LGBT community and general society in a common social and cultural space without homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, sexism or any other discrimination. The festival draws public figures to speak in support of tolerance, the need to fight against homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination, making the issue interesting for the media and society at large.
The festival includes such events as scientific seminars, discussions with experts from various cities of Russia and Europe, photo exhibitions, musical events attracting famous performers, theatrical performances and many others.
In two years, the festival has gained enormous visibility in the city and the mass media. In its duration, more than 5,000 people attended the festival. In 24 hours, a letter in support of the festival was signed by 1,600 Russian citizens and 30 leading Russian human rights organization. The festival drew important public figures, such as Vladimir Pozner, Steven Fry, mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit, singer Laura Fabian, and others to the dialogue about homophobia and discrimination. The city’s Committee for Culture for the first time made an open statement about their tolerant position regarding events held by LGBT. Each year, the festival attracts dozens of new volunteers.
Program: Psychological Aid
Goal: to raise awareness of LGBT community and society at large regarding psychological aspects of SOGI; to equip LGBT community with tools for combatting inner homophobia and recognizing discrimination based on SOGI through psychological counseling, support groups, awareness-raising seminars; to train psychologists to work with LGBT.
Target group: LGBT-community of Saint-Petersburg, society at large.
LGBT people of Russia suffer from internal homophobia and low self-esteem due to the pressures of public opinion. Being an object of discrimination becomes an accepted way of life. As a result LGBT people do not notice or recognize discrimination and are unable to stand up for their rights or dignity. This results in social and political apathy of LGBT people in Russia and inhibits development of legal consciousness on individual level.
Psychologists at large are not trained to work with issues specific to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Psychological Aid program provides on-site and remote services, individual, family and group psychological counseling, one-time and regular consultations, implements awareness-raising campaigns regarding all aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation for society at large. Education of psychologists working with LGBT, researching the needs of the LGBT community, and expert support of other programs of the organization are also important components of the Psychological Aid program.
Psychological Aid program is closely linked with Legal Aid program, with psychological aid being the first step to awareness and recognition of discrimination and victims’ willingness to assert their rights in court.
In 3 years of existence, 2000 people have received counseling, participated in support groups; cases of discrimination have been recorded in the discrimination monitoring system and included in human rights violations reports; 30 awareness-raising seminars were held; comprehensive LGBT needs assessment carried out with a pool of 300 respondents in St. Petersburg.
Program: Legal Aid
Goal: Raising legal awareness and equipping LGBT community with tools for protection of their rights and dignity; assistance with restoration of violated rights; strategic litigation
Target group: LGBT victims of discrimination; LGBT community of Saint-Petersburg; society at large
Lawyers and attorneys provide legal services and assistance to the LGBT community by
· on-site and remote individual counseling
· representing discrimination victims’ interests in court, including for purposes of strategic litigation;
· representing organization’s interests in court for purposes of strategic litigation;
· assistance with preparation of various documents (claims, complaints, etc.)
· awareness-raising seminars for the LGBT community, legal literacy campaign
· providing legal support to the organization and its programs
· conducting research of the LGBT community needs in the legal sphere
· providing data for monitoring of discrimination
First LGBT mass rally was officially sanctioned by St. Petersburg authorities for “Rainbow Flash” IDAHO 2011.
Legal seminars take place every 3 months. Consultations cover the following topics: abasement of human dignity, hate crimes and hate speech, refugee status, violation of confidentiality, same-sex family rights, violations of parental rights, legal document change for transsexual people, refusal of medical aid for transsexual people.
Program: PFLAG (Parents and friends of lesbians and gays “Parents’ club”)
Helping parents and friends of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to understand and accept their children's or friends' sexual orientation or gender identity; uniting families; combat teenage suicide and depression by raising awareness that parents could understand and accept
Target groups: Parents and friends of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their children
Description: The PFLAG ("Parents' Club") was launched in December 2010.
The project consists of monthly meetings of parents and friends of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as well as representatives of the LGBT community themselves who have difficulties in relationships with parents and friends around acceptance of their orientation or identity. Meetings are held in the form of support groups.
Parents of LGBT also participate in events of other programs, as speakers, experts, rally participants.
In April 2011 parents of LGBT participated in press conference opening the Week against Homophobia (WAH), a video clip of parents addressing the society at large against homophobia was released. As a result, the event received extra media attention and support. PFLAG receives regular positive feedback from the community. PFLAG meetings take place every month.
Program: Community Center
Goal: To provide safe and accessible space for development of LGBT initiatives, partner relationships with civil society actors, as well as for information exchange
Target group: LGBT community of St. Petersburg, civil society of St. Petersburg
The idea of the Community Center is that the LGBT community of St. Petersburg has its own space. Here various LGBT groups hold their meetings, working sessions, psychological support groups, movie screenings with discussions, creative evenings, round tables, etc. One can also get information about the activities of the LGBT and other human rights, social and charitable organizations of the city, as well as about sexual orientation and gender identity - among distributed brochures, booklets, posters, etc. there is a lot of useful and interesting material.
The Center is open for representatives of civil society, and gladly hosts friendly and partner organization.
Community center regularly opens its doors for such non-LGBT and LGBT groups: the anti-fascist group, Youth Human Rights Group of St. Petersburg, LGBT film festival Side by Side, Gay rights group “Krylya” (Wings), lesbian group LesbiPartiya, and many others. Each month, 2-6 events of other organizations take place in the Community center.
Program: LGBT Families
· To consolidate LGBT parents’ community
· To increase visibility of LGBT families with children in the society thereby eliminating the stigma, and advocating their interests
· To educate and inform the LGBT community on issues of reproduction, adoption, parenting.
Target group: LGBT parents and prospective parents, their relatives and friends, public opinion makers and professionals (journalists, teachers, psychologists, doctors).
Description: The LGBT Families was launched in January 2009.
Lesbians, gays and bisexuals raising children are one of the most vulnerable groups within the LGBT community. The program LGBT Families consists of meetings and workshops for LGBT parents and others who are interested in the topic, where issues of reproduction, adoption and parenting are discussed. The program provides a platform for professional, psychological, and peer-to-peer support.
Major Achievements: During 2010-2011, the program organized over 20 events attended by at least 500 people. Because of these meetings, positive stories about LGBT parents with children appeared in the media.
In December 2009, with the support of the H. Böll Foundation, a study called "LGBT parenting: problems, needs and possibilities" was conducted which led to the developent of a strategy for LGBT parents movement, and the publishing of a pamphlet.
The program also supported the exhibition "Positive Children", dedicated to social acceptance of HIV positive children.
Program: Transgender in action
· To mobilize the Transgender community and to integrate the Transgender community into the city-wide LGBT movement.
· To reduce transphobia in the LGBT community and society by providing of adequate information about all aspects of gender
· To monitor and build a database of administrative hindrances to legal gender change for purposes of advocacy
Target group: Transgender community, LGB community, and society in general
Description: The project started in April 2010 after as a result of a workshop held during the "Week Against Homophobia" in St. Petersburg. Transgender people in general - transsexuals in particular - are a very private and invisible group that does not seek to unite with other groups to defend their rights and fight against discrimination. Therefore, the program’s main tasks are to monitor the needs and concerns of the Transgender community, organizing regular meetings, providing safe space for events, psychological and legal counseling. An informational brochure "Myths and facts about transgender people" will be published in 2012. We also monitor administrative hindrances to legal gender change for purposes of advocacy, which is the planned stage 2 for the program.
· Representatives of the Transgender community regularly attend and participate in the life of the organization
· A questionnaire for the survey of needs of the Transgender community was developed
· Regular workshops, legal and psychological counseling provided for the Transgender community
Program: Outreach to Professional Groups
· To develop an unbiased perception of the LGBT community by providing bona fide information about homosexuality and gender identity to groups of professionals, including those that influence public opinion
· To form a collective identity of the LGBT community in St. Petersburg, by providing information about history of the LGBT movement and the current situation of LGBT people in the world.
Target group: professional groups/public opinion makers (human rights defenders, journalists, teachers, health workers, NGOs), the LGBT community
Description: The program began in January 2009. That section of the program that targets LGBT consists of a wide range of seminars and lectures designed to target specific group. During the 18 months of its operation the program has covered the following topics: gays and lesbians in pre-revolutionary Russia; gay pride: pros and cons; tactics and strategies in the struggle for LGBT rights; the developent of the LGBT movement in the West; the situation of LGBT people in the world and Russia; and others.
Since September 2009, the program offers professional groups educational workshops and seminars on issues related to gender and LGBT. Seminars are led by experts on gender and sexuality.
A joint strategy was developed and efforts coordinated with civil rights institutions concerning the protection of human rights. By educating key professional groups, Coming Out Info created a “snow-ball” effect in general social awareness. In addition, through its educational seminars Coming Out Info greatly reduced homophobia in professional organizations.
Program: Coming Out Cinema
Goal: To provide LGBT- and “queer”- oriented media to the public as well as to create LGBT-friendly social and cultural space alternative to the night clubs.
Target group: During the first six months the target audience of the project was the LGBT community; however, as the project is developing, the scope of topics is expanded. Therefore, in addition to the LGBT community, Coming Out Cinema now focuses on civil rights and human rights activists of St. Petersburg.
Description: The program was launched in October 2008. It provides opportunities to the LGBT community to discuss issues of external and internal homophobia, coming out, issues in same-sex couples and other topics relevant to sexual orientation and gender identity. The most effective way of organizing such meetings is showing a film followed by a discussion led by an expert or with participation by special guests. The idea of the program is expressed in the slogan: "See, speak, unite!".
Topics already covered in the Coming Out Cinema: same-sex families with children, homophobia and transphobia, HIV, developent of the LGBT movement, women's labor rights, gay pride, older LGBT people, and many others.
Coming Out Cinema draws more than 100 viewers every month. Having become a tradition in the organization, the LGBT community of St. Petersburg appreciates Coming Out Cinema as a quality alternative to club entertainment.
Plans for 2011:
Educating society and the LGBT community about legal, social, and psychological aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity.
· To conduct surveys concerning the needs of LGBT community of St. Petersburg
· To provide legal, psychological, and other educational seminars for the LGBT community based on the results of the survey
· To provide seminars and training for professional groups and groups that influence public opinion, making special emphasis on attracting larger numbers of professionals - including teachers, human rights activists, NGO workers, journalists, medical workers, etc.
· To publish and distribute literature for the purposes of increasing self-awareness and awareness of civil rights of LGBT individuals and educating society about homosexuality and gender
Providing legal and psychological support for the LGBT community in St. Petersburg.
To further develop of psychological and legal services for the LGBT community of St. Petersburg (individual consultations, pretrial and trial proceedings, support group, LGB hotline, publishing and distribution of promotional materials about the services offered, promotional campaigns in night clubs, bars, cafes; support of informational blogs in social networks on the Internet)
Lobbying and advocacy for the interests of the LGBT community at the city level
· To achieve inclusion of the results of monitoring discrimination against LGBT citizens in official annual reports on human rights in the Russian Federation.
· To initiate discussion with members of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg about measures eliminating discrimination of citizens based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
· To set legal precedents recognizing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
Establishing conditions and opportunities for open cultural and social self-expression of the LGBT community of St. Petersburg.
· To hold the International Queer Culture Festival 2011, involving public figures, public opinion makers, and human rights NGOs
· To support and further develop programs Coming Out Cinema and Coming Out Info, attracting new target groups
Organizational developent and capacity building
· Fundraising. to improve sustainability of the organization by diversification of sources of financing, developing fundraising from private donors and businesses; to seek core financing
· Strategic communications: to regularly and systematically inform the society and the LGBT community of St. Petersburg, Russia, and international community about the organization’s work and achievements, with the aim to increase the organization’s visibility, ensure transparency of its activities, and establish collaboration with other Russian NGOs
· Work with volunteers: to continue to attract volunteers on a regular basis, to provide training and opportunities for professional growth, developent of skills of NGO work and self-actualization
Polina Savchenko – general manager, director for development
Igor Kochetkov – director, member of the board
Anna Anisimova – programs manager, program coordinator of International Queer Festival, member of the Board
Gulya Sultanova – program coordinator of Coming Out Cinema and Outreach to Professional Groups
Sasha Semenova – program coordinator of LGBT Families and Transgender in Action
Mikhail Belodedov – program coordinator of Advocacy and Lobbying, financial manager
Maria Sabunaeva – Psychological aid program coordinator, psychologist
Maria Kozlovskaya – lawyer
Olga Lenkova – communications manager, coordinator of translators, website administration
Roman Melnik – PFLAG (“Parents’ club”) program coordinator
Valentina Tanevskaya, Sveta Barsukova – coordinators of volunteer program
Grigoriy Zaritovskiy – coordinator
Valery Sozaev – consultant
Maksim Ivanstov – member of the board
Aleksey Gorin – member of the board
Our team has more than 70 volunteers who participate on a regular basis, 150 more in our volunteer database, and 345 people subscribed to our mailing list. They are coordinators of projects, teams of photographers and translators. Through their efforts the following are accomplished: translation of various texts; archives of photographs of all our actions; technical support; Internet resources, informational services, promoting of the organization in social networks, conducting of surveys and survey analysis, decoding audio recording of events, assistance in organizing/coordinating/conducting events and programs and much, much more. “Coming Out” is always open to initiatives of volunteers and participants of the organization. Our volunteers are our foundation and our most valuable asset.
Coming Out is proudly member of:
Russian LGBT Network
Civil Rights Defenders
Consulate General of Netherlands
Consulate General of Sweden
Consulate General of United Kingdom
LGBT film festival Side by Side
Heinrich Boell Foundation
Indigo LGBT Store
Center for Development of Non-commercial Organizations
This publication is supported by ILGA-Europe, project Enhancing Pluralism and Combating Discrimination against LGBT People in Russia. The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the ILGA-Europe or its funders.
Website – http://www.comingoutspb.ru