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Message from Irina von Wiese, chair, LIBG

December 22, 2021 9:32 AM

Irian von Wiese ()

It is a great honour to be elected chair of the Liberal International British Group. Stepping into Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett's shoes is not easy, and I owe him a huge 'thank you' for all his work as LIBG chair since July 2018.

So much has happened since, and Adrian steered this group through a perfect storm: Brexit, Covid, populist forces fed by increasingly sophisticated disinformation, and a dismal government descending into chaos and corruption.

LIBG is affiliated to Liberal International - the global federation of liberal parties.

Its aims are to keep liberal values - human rights, social justice, democracy and rule of law - alive in the face of adversity.

Working with like-minded parties across the globe, we want to keep Britain's pro-European, internationalist voice audible loud and clear across the globe. I am convinced that Britain still is the open, tolerant and welcoming society I encountered when I arrived in this country in 1996, and I will always fight to keep it that way.

My grandmother and father fled political persecution in Russia and Germany. As a lawyer and volunteer, I have sought to help refugees and migrants in the UK.

In 2019 I was incredibly honoured to be elected to the European Parliament and serve as vice-chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee.

Post-Brexit, I continue to work on human rights issues advising businesses on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Modern slavery and forced labour, inhumane working conditions and child labour still lurk in forgotten corners of our cities and at the bottom of many company supply chains. Only in cooperation with our sister parties around the world can we tackle these problems.

I was also privileged to serve on the board of the European Endowment for Democracy, an EU organisation promoting liberal democracy in the 'eastern neighbourhood', North Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Civil society engagement plays a huge role in this endeavour, and LIBG supports sister parties who channel these efforts.

Finally, it is vital that we keep defending diversity, inclusion and intersectionality in Europe and beyond. Adrian's achievements in this respect, notably in support of LGBT+ communities in Poland and Hungary, but also in bringing together people from different backgrounds here in the UK, need no further explanation. Sadly, the situation in many countries makes this work more urgent than ever, and LIBG will continue to raise awareness and tackle these issues.

You can follow our work via this website, but also on social media @LibIntBg where we will be tweeting regularly on international issues, events, and meetings of informative discussion and debate.

Launch of Protect Our Twins campaign

Human rights are under threat in our twinned towns in Poland: across the UK it's time to help

We're asking local councils twinned with towns in Poland to start active diplomatic engagement to champion equality and human rights in the face of the "LGBT ideology free" zones Poland has created. Local communities in our twinned towns are now under threat, people are discriminated against, and human rights have been attacked.

  • More than 100 LGBT zones 'free of LGBT ideology' have been locally declared and more of these #HateZones are being lobbied for
  • Local councils in Poland decide this through local resolutions
  • UK has dozens of twinned town arrangements dating back decades
  • We have to look after the communities we're twinned with
  • It's time to #ProtectOurTwins

UK Lib Dems lead a cross-party initiative

The UK party has stepped forwards to lead a cross-party, coordinated response at local level. There are detailed draft motions and guidance for Councillors, templated letters to the Mayors of their twinned towns, and a 5 part approach.

These public letters will clarify whether the local resolutions are remaining in place, before the UK Council considers how to take forward any review of twinning relationships.

The Liberal Democrats value twinning relationships. The spirit of the campaign is focussed on education and preventing discrimination, with UK councils engaging in a period of education and discussion with their Polish twins.

The UK must take a stance: #ProtectOurTwins

"Events in Poland should concern the whole international community", explains campaign leader Layla Moran MP. "Labelling LGBT as an 'ideology' and supressing LGBT people is outrageous. Many of these towns are twinned with those here in the UK. We cannot stand by; we must Protect Our Twins, and the LGBT communities who live there."

Join the campaign

Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, thern chair of Liberal International British Group (LIBG), said: "We are holding out our hands in support and solidarity with our friends and fellow LGBT+ citizens in Poland whose rights are being negated by the creation of these 'hate zones' which goes against fundamental human rights, both in terms of UN and EU law. Enabling dialogue is key to sharing the recognised values 'Liberals' believe in, and by engaging in discussion at a local council level, as well as with our sister Liberal Party Nowoczesna, is the way to hopefully reverse these local resolutions and show our solidarity with the people of Poland."

Find out more about #ProtectOurTwins

Here's the full campaign site, with details of how to get press releases, letters, motions and support material.


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