Project leader from Finland: Emmi Pihlajaniemi
Project leader from Greece: Konstantina Kosmidou
Project leader from Italy: Ilaria Trivellato
Project leader from Portugal: Isabel Advirta
Project leader from Switzerland: Maria von Känel
I am Emmi, a Finnish woman, living in Helsinki and married with an Italian woman, Elisa. We have three small children, oldest one is now five years old. I’ve been active in Finnish organisation for Rainbow Families since our second child was born. This is my second year as a president of our board. For me, the work we do, is both fun and important. I enjoy organising different kind of happenings for our families, but also I’m interested in legal issues that concern rainbow families – also because my own family lives in quite strange situation between two countries and two different legislations!
Constantina Kosmidou was born in Drama (Greece) in 1972. Her childhood was an endless journey throughout the country following her father who was a doctor in the Hellenic Military. Her studies and life are characterized by the same travelling spirit. She has studied Business Administration in the Technical Institution of Patras, has an MS in Bank Administration, and is a certified nurse. Currently she is at her senior year at the Political Studies and Public Administration Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Her experience in life has been an endless course of personal quest. She has lived for a year in India in a missionary camp helping 400 families with leper. She had been working with Maria Teresa, the famous humanist, in Calcutta. Through poverty and mischief she got a deep sense of the world that helped her mature. For the last seven years she has been working as a tourist guide and has travelled in 102 countries, specialized in 50 of them, mostly in the European region.
She has been working with several NGOs since 1987 fighting discriminations and promoting respect for human rights. In the last years, she has been involved dynamically with gender and sexual orientation issues and mainly LGBT family issues. She is a board member of OLKE, homosexual and lesbian community of Greece, since 2005 and the current president of the organization.
Me and my wife have conceived our daughter in Belgium, got married in Spain and –if in Italy doesn’t change the law on the end of life- who knows, maybe we go to die in the Netherlands!
Well, Italy is not only the earth of saints, poets and navigators. It’s even a black hole in the civilized Europe, the only country among the ones that have funded Europe who hasn’t any law for lgbt people.
In this country that I hate and love so much, I’m the responsible of Famiglie Arcobaleno Emilia Romagna www.famigliearcobaleno.org- and as a job I’m a theater organizer. At present I work with festival Gender Bender www.genderbender.it for whom –together with others- I have written a project that has been selected by European Commission: www.performinggender.eu and to whom I’m working at present for its implementation.
As lgbt activist, since years I organize a lot of initiatives: I do a lot of training (from nursery to universities), I create training course ad hoc, I take part to a lot of public meetings, I make networking among institutions, universities, professionals and associations and I take care of some special projects like a theater children exhibition on the theme of sexual orientation and gender roles and workshops for children on the same themes using game (next one will use cooking)
About my country, some time ago the writer Erri De Luca commented in this way the fact that Neaples was penultimate in the list of the quality of life of the cities published by the magazine Economist: I consider quality of life to eat everywhere things delicius and simple at a low budget that were unrealistic elsewhere. I consider quality of life the sea that roams in the room of the gulf among Capri, Posilippo and Sorrento. I consider quality of life the wind the sweeps the gulf from the four cardinal points and makes light the air.
I consider quality of life the excellence of the neaples coffee and pizza. I consider quality of life the courtesy and the smile entering a shop, the music in the streets. I consider quality of life the history that appears everywhere. I consider quality of life the geography that consoles at the first eyesight and I consider quality of life the widespread irony that permit to wellcome this top tens with a ‘Ma faciteme ’o piacere’”.
Sometimes I hate my country for how much I love it, a place full of genius and cowardice, prejudice and courage, welcome and shame.
My dream is to leave my country (and the world) a bit more wellcoming, a bit more fair and a bit more equal of the one I have found.
I have been a member of ILGA Portugal’s Board since 2002, being also a part of our political intervention group and our women group. Nowadays, I’m coordinating our rainbow families group, besides being involved in a whole
lot of activities.
ILGA Portugal is very active – and we do a lot with few of us.
I’m very committed into helping make this a better world for our children
and I believe that advancing human rights issues is the way to do it.
Maria von Känel launched the petition “Equal Opportunities for all Families” in association with the Swiss gay/lesbian umbrella associations LOS and Pink Cross. She is a co-founder and General Manager of the Swiss Rainbow Families Association. The idea to create a special day once a year to celebrate rainbow families all over the world came to her in the course of her ongoing work on behalf of LGBT family rights. The “International Family Equality Day” will be celebrated yearly in Europe, Japan, Israel the US and Canada on the first Sunday of May. Interested? Have a look into the IFED Annual Report 2013 – Enjoy!
Maria has been in a registered partnership since 2007, when Swiss law first started recognising same-sex partnerships. She lives near Zurich with her wife and their two children. Her wishes for the future:
Mutual recognition of registered partnerships within the EU as a next step toward full legal recognition for rainbow families.