This is a collective statement and call to action by the representatives of the EUI LGBTQIA+ Society, the Decolonising Initiative, the Researchers’ Union, and our new collaborative coalition on ‘Intersectional Inclusivity’ in our community.
This Pride Party was organised to queer the EUI, to contribute towards creating more explicitly open and safe spaces on campus for all who make up our diverse community, and to celebrate queer joy.
Today, LGBTQIA+ and human rights are still being threatened – right here by the current fascist government in Italy and a whole political class unable to guarantee equal rights for citizens and residents that are members of a minority. We have seen recent and ongoing unified political attempts to ban drag performances, threaten trans rights, and silence queer histories in the United States and here in Europe. This is all part of a global trend of rising oppression against non-heteronormative sexualities and genders, which is also happening for example in Afghanistan, Iran, or Uganda, where regressive laws and violence dictate the lives of women and LGBTQIA+ people. We see all these struggles as connected and part of the same intersectional fight for equality, social justice and emancipation, and stand in solidarity with all those fighting against patriarchal and heteronormative oppression.
We would like to take this occasion to remind you that the first pride was not a party, but a riot against police brutality and against violence and discrimination of all kinds - a riot led by black trans women. It happened in June 1969 in New York when police forces raided the Stonewall Inn to arrest trans and gender non-conforming people who did not comply and fought back. In remembering and uplifting this history and the courageous activists who have fought before us, we need to re-iterate that the fight for intersectional equality and human rights is far from over, and that Pride month is not only about celebrating the diversity of our community and the hard-won social gains, but also to keep in mind that the struggle is not over and that we have to continue fighting for social justice for all, especially the most marginalised. We need to support our trans siblings, queer people of colour, individuals whose gender or sexual identity are still being criminalised and all groups being socially scapegoated and unfairly vilified for the troubles of the day!
Many of us at the EUI are here to engage in political research and work and make change on a wider scale, because we care about making the world a better place for future generations. We want to emphasise however the need to do that work in parallel with practical activism in our local community here in Florence, and on the Institute’s campus, to actively fight together for a more inclusive and shared safe space.
On this occasion, we take the opportunity to emphatically and to unequivocally reject homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, sexism, ableism, racism, classism, and discrimination of all kinds, and to call on the EUI and its administration to do better: to care more about its community without which it would not have the prestige it so values. The EUI and its administration claim to care about inequalities and discrimination - however, they are making baby steps. The embarrassingly recent establishment of a Dean and Officer for Equality, Inclusion and Diversity is a positive development but will it be enough? We are waiting to see concrete actions and real changes at the institutional level that can lead to the more effective inclusion of individuals at risk of discrimination. We now have a Researchers Union. It was born of an arduous struggle and a considerable amount of hard volunteer work by EUI community members. We have experienced higher standards of inclusivity within other communities that we are part of, and at our former universities and workplaces. It is now our goal to ensure that the EUI both reaches and surpasses these standards.
We call on the EUI to address its lack of diversity, its eurocentrism, its elitism, its heteronormativity, its white privilege, its straightness, and its conservatism – all of which contribute towards creating an environment of exclusion and lack of safety for too many in our community. In general, the EUI is seen and felt by many of us as apathetic, as if prioritising its own institutional profit over the wellbeing of the many researchers, students, trainees, postdocs, faculty, staff, partners, etc. who make that income possible. We are exhausted by the lack of inclusivity and lack of support, and we are angry that the responsibility for making the community feel safer is left to the discretion and unpaid volunteer work of only a few in that community; we seem to face an uphill battle against an impersonal, unresponsive, and uncaring administration, which needs to be more proactive on these issues. We are tired of the turnover, bubble effect and lack of institutional memory contributing to every new generation at EUI feeling like they have to start from scratch. We are grateful for the pride flags that the EUI has reluctantly put up for the first time in its history on more than one of its buildings (though not all). But this is the bare minimum, and only a cosmetic substitute for substantive equality, support and solidarity from within the administration.
Finally, we call on you all in the community to show your support and solidarity – to keep in mind that our many shared fights are all intersectional: For grant equality and the granting of equal social rights to EU and non-EU members; for better protection and accountability against harassment; for better access to health support and information; for better accessibility for disabled members of the community with diverse access needs; for more diverse and inclusive hiring and selection practices; for a more eco-friendly institution; for actively welcoming refugees and migrant people from Ukraine but also from Afghanistan, Palestine and other places outside of Europe which the EUI falls silent upon (the number of issues at the EUI is too long to list here). All our fights are intersectional and converge in terms of the need to make EUI more inclusive for the people who make up this place – and that one of these fights cannot be considered won without all the others, and without working together!
In recognition of Pride Month and all that it stands for, let’s celebrate our diverse community and queerness, but let’s also proudly assert that we will not be silent when it comes to oppression in the wider world or in our local shared spaces. We will not stand for or abide by the EUI’s unacceptably low standards of inclusivity. We will fight for intersectional justice and equality, and we want it now! How can the EUI purport to progressively reflect and research the EU and wider world, when it is so far behind on its own campus? How dare the EUI host a performative State of the Union, an event which threatened the wellbeing of its researchers with still no tangible consequences or accountability - and make superficial claims to equality, diversity and inclusion in its marketing, when it does so little to engage with and hear the issues faced by its own community? Enough is enough: it’s way past time for the EUI to step up, to take responsibility, and to use its power, prestige, resources and funding to listen to us and make many real changes, and to make them now.