“Time to react” – Creating an enabling environment for civil society
International conference at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, 1 June 2017

Click here for formal conference website
(in German and English, scroll down for English) 


Date: Thursday, 1 June 2017 , 2 pm – 7 pm, doors open at 1:30pm

Location: Library reading room at the Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt), Berlin
Address: Werderscher Markt 1, 10117 Berlin

Hosts: Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation, German Federal Foreign Office

Languages: German/English with simultaneous interpreting

Please register by May 22 at: or06-s@auswaertiges-amt.de
Members of the press please also register at: presse@lsvd.de

Please note: To attend this conference you have to register personally by email. For security reasons you need to bring your identity card or passport. Please allow sufficient time for the security check. Library doors open will open at 1:30 pm. Access is via the atrium at Werderscher Markt 1, 10117 Berlin.

Despite positive developments and stronger movements toward democracy in many countries, the opposite tendency is also evident on a global scale. Civil societies are under threat from actions taken not only by authoritarian but also by democratic governments.

Before I knew what that ‘shrinking space’ was supposed to mean, our organization was affected“, says Henri Tiphagne, Director of People’s Watch in India. Many different types of action are restricting civil society. These include legally enacted legislation or administrative regulations that affect women’s rights groups, foundations, human rights organizations, and land rights and environmental protection work. They also include relatively new laws designed to protect national values or identities, which are used to criminalize vaguely defined unpopular political action. NGOs are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the registration requirements in many countries. New laws also make it harder to receive funding from abroad.

Organizations for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) have long faced registration challenges, especially in countries that criminalize homosexual acts. Russia´s new `anti-propaganda laws´ make any positive mention of homosexuality – even for health education – a punishable offense. Less well known internationally are anti-NGO laws such as those in Uganda or laws that seek to uphold “national dignity”. These especially affect LGBTI organizations which are frequently their primary target.

It is time to come together to develop counter-strategies that reflect and incorporate the special role of LGBTI organizations. This conference focuses on foreign policy, development cooperation, NGOs, and donors. The aim is to formulate questions and discuss possible solutions. What alliances, good examples, and ideas already exist that can help both foreign policy and development cooperation react to the shrinking space for civil society?


GPP in partnership with EVZ and Dreilinden
invite grantmakers to attend a breakfast meeting

Thursday June 1,  2017
TIME: 9-11:30h
LOCATION: Amici Am Gendarmenmarkt

RSVP for the breakfast is required and is now closed.
Contact enepon@globalphilanthropyproject.org with any questions.

Global Philanthropy Project (GPP) is a collaboration of funders and philanthropic advisors working to expand global philanthropic support to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in the Global South and East.

Reading Resources:

STUDY: The Impact of International Counter-terrorism on Civil Society Organisations
Understanding the role of the Financial Action Taskforce
April 2017, Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service

On “shrinking space”: a framing paper
Transnational Institute (TNI), 07 April 2017

The Perfect Storm: The closing space for LGBT civil society in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Kenya, and Hungary
Meg Davis for Global Philanthropy Project, April 2016.

German LGBTI Grantmaking Infosheet
Including data from the 2013-2014 Global Resources Report (GPP, 2016) and the 2008-2013 Rainbow Philanthropy Studies (Dreilinden, 2014).


2:00 – 2:15 pm Welcome

Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Federal Foreign Office

Axel Hochrein, Executive Board Member, Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation

2:15 – 3:00 pm Analysis and characteristics of the closing space

Introductory presentation: “Characteristics of the closing space”
Iva Dobichina, Open Society Foundation, London

Research presentation: ‟The Perfect Storm – The closing spaces for LGBT civil society in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Kenya, and Hungary
Matthew Hart, Global Philanthropy Project

3:00 – 4:45 pm Practical examples 

Botswana: LEGABIBO wins court case on right to register
Monica Tabengwa (video message), Director of Pan Africa ILGA (PAI), on freedom of association

Russia: Anti-NGO legislation and its dimensions
Gulya Sultanowa, Side by Side St. Petersburg, on the LGBT Community as vanguard and victim

Eastern Europe and Central Asia: focus on Trans Rights
Julia Ehrt, Transgender Europe (TGEU)

Uganda: Anti-NGO laws
Kasha Jaqueline Nabagesera, Co-Founder FARUG Uganda, with a call to build alliances

4:45 – 5:30 pm Coffee break

5:30 – 7:00 pm Panel discussion: Where to go from here? How to respond without doing harm? Promising counter-strategies and alliances

Dr. Bärbel Kofler, German Federal Commissioner for Human Rights
Dr. Heike Kuhn
, Head of Human Rights Division, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Barbara Unmüßig, Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, President
Björn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe, Programmes Director

Moderator: Dr. Annette Weber, German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Q&A, closing discussion

7:00 – 8:00 pm Reception with beverages and snacks

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