Diverse Youth Network was established in 2018 on the grounds of intersectionality; students of the University of Pécs thought of creating an association that strives for equity for all socially excluded groups including the Roma, Jewish, the LGBT community and foreigners. We aimed at providing mobility opportunities through the Erasmus programme for talented Roma students to gain international experience. Our goal was to empower Romani women through roundtable discussions. We wanted to raise awareness within Romani families on the importance of doing well at school and daring to dream big. We started to insert our human rights approach through seminars, conferences, workshops and partnerships that include contemporary social issues from the human rights perspective. With a Roma leadership, it was important for us to bring together the diverse youth of our societies who are silenced or are left out of decision making processes.
The Diverse Youth Network is unique, because it has a Roma leadership and its impact is realised in mainstream civil society. Independent of any political party or donor organisation, the fundamental principle of our activities lies in grassroots activism and the empowerment of young people, who are the key agents of change. We work towards building a democratic and inclusive society by mobilising large crowds, addressing the youth and others. We aim to shape the public opinion on different discriminated groups enduring social injustices. We are unique because we are not based in Budapest, and we are brave and committed to topics that nobody talks about. Our reach is diverse, but our touch is local!
What are your most memorable moments in Diverse Youth Network’s recent history?
In the past two years we created pilot projects such as: ‘Step on Roma Ride!‘, ‘Freedom of My Identity Human Right‘-Festival, ‘From hate speech to genocide‘-conference, Pécs Pride 2020. In addition, we established the first ever Roma LGBT Forum in Hungary and also the PINCS (Pécs Youth Nationalities Group). Currently, we are moving our activities to online platforms because of COVID-19, while maintaining focus on the Roma communities and the LGBT community. Roma communities are mobilising against the government’s inadequate public health measures, while the LGBT community is combatting recent legislation targeting trans people.
Can you tell us about your priorities, projects, topics, etc. you’ll be working on for the remainder of 2020?
Our flagship program in 2020 is the ‘Freedom of My Identity Human Right‘-Festival which was planned in Pécs, from May 11 to 16. On the last day of the Festival, for the first time in the history of Hungary, we intended to host the first LGBT parade in the country, Pécs Pride 2020. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and after in-depth discussions, the Diverse Youth Network has decided to alter the public events for the Festival, and move the programs online to suit our current circumstances. This decision has been made in the interest of the safety of the public, our volunteers and our supporters.
Nevertheless, the Festival itself together with Pécs Pride would be realised as soon as public health restrictions do not put a burden on offline implementation. At this time, we feel it is our responsibility towards the communities we represent to look towards alternate means of bringing people together at a time when solidarity means standing apart, and where social issues we want to reflect on are more relevant than ever concerning the democratic worries in Hungary. We would sincerely like to thank all who have supported us on our journey so far, and invite you all to join us for the next step. Even though it is important now to continue with the practice of social distancing, we are still in this together as a community, and we realised that most of the actors of civil society moved their activities to the online matrix due to uncertainty, and simultaneously people spending their time in quarantines or lockdowns naturally demand interactions happening online, they have a basic need to find online initiatives they can be part of.
The ‘Freedom of my Identity Human Right Festival – Online Edition‘ is an adaptive response that we look forward to bringing to the online area between May 14-16. We look forward to bringing a program forward online to bring some much needed knowledge and culture to the people of Hungary and beyond. The full revised program will consist of roundtable, panel – discussions, lectures, and one or two musical performances. Panel discussions will be in Hungarian, except for ‘Feminism post-COVID-19’.
We will continue to build the identity of Diverse Youth Network through strategic planning. We aim to widen the portfolio of mobility options for young Roma. We intend to scale up our STEP ON ROMA RIDE project. We also hope to bring more successful Romani women to other poorer regions of Hungary. We want to encourage intersectionality by working with the mainstream LGBT movement, and the public health community network. We will build long-term partnerships with NGOs specifically addressing diversity and inclusion. We will also carry out extensive research on a variety of topics including LGBT and Roma and publish our results.
Here are some links to our online activities you might find interesting:
- Our Facebook page full of updates
- Our latest online panel discussion on what is happening now in different cities of Hungary
- Our panel discussion with MEPs on the rule of law, including the transgender law
- Our Roma LGBT Forum making it to the best 5 European Roma Youth Projects by Phiren Amenca
- Our online panel discussion with trans people from Hungary how they feel after the legislation and the campaign of #droparticle33
- Our joint statement conemning the Hungarian legislation on transgender rights
- You are not alone! Supporting workshop for TRANS people
IGLYO has been empowering young people for 35 years. What is for you the potential of youth activism in the LGBTQI movement?
Mainstreamed antigypsyism creates every day obstacles and harsh challenges endured by Roma people all over Europe depriving them from social inclusion, facing discrimination in employment and resulting in exclusion from all levels of political decision making. The stigmatisation of young women, people with disabilities and Roma people who belong to the LGBTQI+ community is increasing, making it harder for them to exist as minorities within one or more minority groups.
More often, LGBTQI+ people are portrayed in the media as a threat to nation, religion, traditional gender roles and the foundation of family. LGBTQI+ youth especially face refusal from their families and communities. Their sexual orientation and gender identity are not only rejected by their nurturing environment, but also at school, work and other places. They are more likely to be stigmatised and are at greater risk of harassment or abuse. Many of these young people remain invisible in the closet, hiding their true identities and orientation. The cultural conflicts that lie between sexual orientation, gender identity and the Roma traditions that regulate the gender roles in the community target those Roma that belong to the LGBTQI+ community and who face multiple disadvantages. LGBTQI+ movements often do not represent those members of the community that belong to an ethnic group, and Roma movements do not provide representation to people of LGBTQI+. We find it important to address this need with Diverse Youth Network to effectively represent the respective young people’s real needs both national and EU level.