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Democracy and art intertwined: working towards empowered and active LGBT community and allies in Lithuania
Start date: 31 Aug 2016, End date: 30 Mar 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Studies and research still shows, that many LGBT people in Lithuania lack legal awareness therefore they tend not to be active in the democratic processes, not to cooperate with the law enforcement and report hate crimes, many don't even know about the laws protective them from discrimination. Lithuanian social climate towards LGBT people is still not the most favorable, hate speech is widespread and normalized, internalized homophobia is widespread, etc. Luckily, more and and more people are willing to join the effort towards LGBT equality. In recent years noticeable growth of LGBT youth and allies occurred, making this target group especially approachable. Throughout the years of working with the local volunteers and experience implementing EVS projects LGL observed that volunteers working in the field of human rights, are not only empowering local LGBT youth and community to live more openly and be much more active when it comes to standing up for their rights. Together LGL and all the individual team members impact this target community: foster their sense of togetherness, assist them in order to have strong identity and be proud of themselves, help to increase their legal and EU awareness, encourages critical thinking and promotes European citizenship, organizes safe and nurturing spaces for young people to participate in the non-formal education, sports and outdoor activities and creates an international network through healthy and constructive activities. Moreover, such partnership ensures youth participation in the advocacy process throughout which important decisions of the politicians can be influenced. In addition to that, EVS volunteers have a power to inspire local community and use their creativity to come up with new ways to spread the human rights message in a non-formal and artistic way. LGL recently established a Volunteers Laboratory – a space for LGBT youth and allies to gain knowledge and experience, get empowered and inspired, which is striving to become an important and strong tool for LGBT community engaging too. An overall objective of the project is by combining our knowledge and experience with the volunteers’ fresh ideas and artistic approach (Artistic Activism), to: 1) create empowered, creative and knowledgeable network of volunteers (Volunteer Laboratory) involved in the local democratic processes and advocacy action; 2) start developing a non-formal time-machine to attempt to systematize non-formal education experience and Artistic Activism methods in the fields of human rights. Participants of this project - two young people from Italy and Slovakia motivated and passionate about LGBT persons rights are willing to spend 10 months in Lithuania (starting January 2017), where at the LGL office they will carry out their voluntary service. Main activities of the volunteers will be:•Community engaging and building;•Studying of the non-formal education, artistic activism methods and creating a "time-machine";•Studying of human rights, EU law, democratic processes, advocacy topics, LGL staff's shadowing•Working in partnership with other human rights NGOs;• Studying Lithuanian language, practicing it;• Information dissemination activities;• Working on the personal projects;As a result, volunteers will gain a practical experience of working in a national LGBT advocacy organization which is very active on international level. Participants will be able to decide for themselves if it is a type of work they are willing to choose as their career. Also, they will gain valuable skills, knowledge and know-hows to be used in their future human rights activism in their own countries or in any other career path they choose. Volunteers will gain valuable knowledge on human rights, EU, national and international democratic processes, advocacy action, artistic activism, non-formal education, etc. Finally, of course, their participation, ideas and work will benefit Lithuanian LGBT youth and allies and serve as an example to encourage local leaders to take an active civic stance and use democratic ways to promote LGBT human rights.Throughout the project, participants will be guided by LGL staff - Volunteer Coordinator, Advocacy Coordinator and Policy Coordinator. Coordinators will be shadowed by the participants in order to learn from their tutors work, observing, helping in their everyday tasks. Volunteers will be given plenty of time and space for research. Around half of their time will be devoted towards organizing of the activities and events and directly working with the target group of LGBT youth and allies. Volunteering in LGL will be based on planning (learning plan will be discussed and created at the very beginning), self- reflection will follow and stimulate the learning process. In addition to that Peer-to-peer methods will be used and EVS volunteers will share their knowledge and skills with each other, the local volunteers and community members.
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