Today, March 9th 2022, the European Commission and the Council of Europe launched the joint study “Meaningful youth political participation in Europe: concepts, patterns and policy implications”. The report investigates youth participation within an evolving European context, whilst reflecting on the key concepts of political participation, types of democratic environments within which young people engage with the system and various mechanisms of participation.
On this occasion, IGLYO would like to underline the crucial importance of meaningful youth participation for LGBTQI activism. Marginalisation and isolation of LGBTQI youth raises barriers to meaningful participation. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately led to even higher obstacles as political spaces have become even less accessible to young LGBTQI activists. Going forward we need to ensure that these spaces open once more and that young LGBTQI people are given the opportunity to speak for themselves. Furthermore, States have to ensure that young LGBTQI people are given the possibility to safely organise themselves among peers in order to be a powerful driver for change in their own right.
Trans youth face additional hurdles as legal gender recognition (LGR) remains unavailable to minors in most European countries. Therefore one of the first encounters trans youth have with the State is of statutory discrimination, not being recognised, and having their identity invalidated. This constitutes a significant barrier to democratic and political participation. While some trans youth are too occupied with their struggle for recognition to care for democratic and political processes, others become demotivated, questioning the integrity of the democracy they live in.
Finally, in the context of meaningful youth political participation, IGLYO would like to recall the commitment by the European Commission made in the 2021 “EU strategy on the rights of the child” to respect children as “active citizens and agents of change”. A respect that should extend to all children and youth regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or variations in sex characteristics.
The title page of the study with white text on grey background reading: “Meaningful youth political participation in Europe: concepts, patterns and policy implications”.