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The Second LGBTQIA Family Conference “LGBTQIA marriage and partnerships. Challenging family values in modern society” took place in Moscow on November 14 and 15.

The conference was organised by the Centre for social and psychological projects “Resource LGBTQIA Moscow”.

Over 200 people took part in the conference. An important feature of the conference is the participation of specialists – psychologists, sociologists, researchers, philosophers, doctors, lawyers and other specialists of the caring professions who have experience in working  with LGBTQIAs – as well as LGBTQIAs themselves, LGBTQIA couples and families. All the events at the conference were conducted in an interactive and open format – anyone could make a presentation, ask their questions or express their opinion. Another significant feature of this particular conference was its inclusivity for the trans* community. Materials about non-discriminatory communication created by the “Open psychology” project were distributed among the participants. There were also presentations and workshops aimed at increasing the visibility of the trans* community, actualising its problems and bringing to light their distinctive features, which is valuable both to specialists and for the LGB community.

During the two days of the conference the participants and guests of the conference focused on issues connected with partnerships and relationships within the LGBTQIA community as well as the place of those issues in the broader context of understanding the concept of Modern Family in our society. What is a Modern Family like, considering the existence of LGBTQIA partnerships and relationships? Are there certain boundaries which define and restrict the Modern Family? We left the conference with more questions than we had at the start. However, according to the participants’ feedback, their understanding and their horizons regarding the topic of the conference were significantly broadened.

The conference was nominally divided into two parts: theory and practice. The first day was centred around the discussion of theoretical issues. The specialists and LGBTQIA activists invited to speak at the Plenary session shared their knowledge and experience, talked about their view of the situation that LGBTQIA families and couples as well as all other families of today find themselves in. Special attention was given to the issue of LGBTQIA families with children. A vital component of that session was the short speech discussing the issue of members of the trans* community being unable to have or raise children.

A meaningful discussion sprung up during the round table discussion for psychologists and specialists under the title “Families in question: how can society support the families which they deny?” We discussed questions such as: What do LGBTQIA families need? What support can specialists provide? How can specialists and psychologists help Rainbow Families and what is already being done?

The first day ended with a meeting for Rainbow Families where all the participants compiled a document which outlined the peculiarities, advantages and needs of LGBTQIA families as well as what we can and already are doing for ourselves in order to protect our rights and enhance our quality of life.

The creative part of the conference consisted of three projects. The first was a presentation of the “Rainbow lamp” literary club’s first published book of poetry titled “A 2015 literary coming out” which culminated in a spontaneous and inspiritng art performance by the participants of the event.

Participants were also invited to enjoy an exhibition by Evgenia Kuznetsova (Kuzya), a “pretend” artist from Moscow who is well-known not only for her art, but also for her humour-based existentialist psychotherapy. The central topic of the exhibition was Family. Apart from drawings visitors could view quotes by the great names of history about family. The exhibition was interactive and visitors could take part in the creative process and draw something themselves.

The third creative project at the conference was the “Display of intimacy” photography exhibition which is the result of a psychological art project by Yulia Malygina and Anna Golubeva. Its main characters are LGBTQIA couples and families. The photo exhibition combines photographs and interviews, it allows the viewer to get a taste of the relationships in LGBTQIA families as the Rainbow couples and families themselves see them.

The second day of the Conference was dedicated to practice and to legal seminars where the employees of a partner organisation (“Stimulus” initiative group) looked at the legal aspects of LGBTQIA partnerships and parenthood and told specialists about the legal peculiarities they might face in working with the LGBTQIA community and gave advice on how to minimise legal risks.

The practical events of the conference generated great interest: the workshops allowed participants to try out new formats of psychological work, to delve into the particulars of specific issues the LGBTQIA community faces and to attempt to find answers to their questions.

All in all, we believe that events like the Second LGBTQIA Family Conference enrich our community with new knowledge, remind us of the importance and value of the interaction between specialists and members of the LGBTQIA community and demonstrate the existing social and psychological problems that give direction to the development of the LGBTQIA community in the future.

Considering the scale and level of the event and the significant interest it has kindled, we can safely say that the conference remains unique and meaningful for the LGBTQIA community of Moscow through its work in connecting the LGBTQIA community with the community of helping specialists for the purpose of mutual enrichment.

By the organisers of the conference.