A week against discrimination

From November 13 to 17, the University of Montpellier hosted LGBT+ phobia week. This year's program focused on LGBT struggles, past and present. Because despite the progress made, LGBT people are still too often the targets of discrimination and violence.

Exhibition opening in the presence of artist Laure Bouin

May 17 is an important date: it's the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. An important day, but only one day. Not enough for the University of Montpellier, which has decided to give the event more prominence. " We have transformed this day into a week to combat LGBT + phobias, which we have chosen to program in November, as there are fewer students on campus in May," explains Laure Parmentier, head of the Quality of Life at Work department.

And reaching as many people as possible is an important issue in a struggle that remains as relevant as ever. " With the advancement of rights, it may seem as if things are changing, but in reality what's needed is undifferentiated treatment," stresses Julie Boiché, Vice-President in charge of Social Responsibility.

Reaching as many people as possible

The fight against discrimination suffered by LGBT people has always been a strong focus of the establishment's policy, and in 2016 it was the first French university to sign the charter of the association L'autre cercle in favor of greater inclusion of LGBT+ staff in the workplace. This initiative will be extended in 2022 with the signing of a new charter that includes students.

And to reach as wide an audience as possible, the organizers of this week-long campaign against LGBT+ phobias have concocted a program that calls on the arts and cinema as " mediators to reach people who wouldn't necessarily feel aware of this cause ", explains Laure Parmentier.

Staff and students were able to attend screenings of the film L'étincelle in Carcassonne, Perpignan and Montpellier, where the director, Benoît Masocco, was present, followed by a lively debate. The event was extended by the opening of the "L'amour ne se juge pas, il se vit" exhibition on November 17. " For one month, some twenty original creations by visual artist Laure Boin, as well as UM students and staff who have come to learn the art of collage, will be on show at the (S)pace," explains Laure Parmentier.

Online harassment

Another highlight of this week like no other: the round table "Online hate: a scourge for LGBT+ people" held on November 14 with three speakers: Shani Benoualid, founder of the #jesuislà association, Aurélien Robert, lawyer at the Montpellier bar and member of theNuage association, and Naeva Nossovitch, clinical psychologist at the university care center.

The choice was not made by chance: " Cyber harassment is a major problem in the fight against discrimination. According to the latest annual report from SOS homophobie, Internet violence is the leading form of violence against LGBT people, accounting for 18% of all acts of violence, ahead of intra-family issues in particular ", explains Laure Parmentier.

Beyond these events, this week is " an opportunity to reaffirm the UM's commitment to combating discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," emphasizes the vice-president in charge of social responsibility. It's a high point that gives us greater visibility, but it's important to remain vigilant all year round, and to ensure that each and every one of us can live our professional lives satisfactorily and be fulfilled without having to hide ," insists Julie Boiché.

And to make the University of Montpellier an inclusive establishment, a number of other initiatives are underway. These include a listening unit, HR systems and awareness-raising documents, as well as working with local authorities to promote regional coordination. " Fighting discrimination isa constant, year-round effort to create a climate in which everyone can live a normal life," concludes Julie Boiché.