By Maria Isabel Romero Ruiz

It comes as no surprise that the European Union COST organisation has got involved in the supporting of the academic and socio-political agenda to contribute to the stabilising of gender and sexual minorities across Europe and the vindication of their social and economic rights. At a time of crisis with a pandemic devastating the planet both at the levels of economy and health, and with the old continent becoming more vulnerable than ever, this COST Action dealing with LGTBI+ social and economic (in)equalities is most timely.

Action CA19103 will take concrete steps to break scholarly disciplinary silos, work across diverse cultural contexts and engage with civil society organisations (CSOs) and the public at large. It will also work with governments, non-governmental policy organisations, trade unions and businesses. With thirty joining members representing fourteen European countries and ten disciplines, three Working Groups (WGs) are being established in areas where social and economic inequalities shape the everyday lives of LGBTI+ people: Families and Communities; Employment and Economic Well-Being; and Social and Legal Inclusion.

Despite existing legal protections against discrimination, LGBTI+ individuals continue to face challenges in Europe, particularly in certain EU countries and neighbouring nations. These difficulties extend to research networking since academics often remain hidden. Data remains scarce since gender and sexual identity is not commonly surveyed. The network will bring in potentially less visible researchers from across Europe. New academics and PhD students will be mentored and advised on how to build successful careers in LGBTI+ studies. The Action will also work to encourage governments to include information on gender and sexual identities in data collection and to consider the specific challenges facing these groups when formulating policy initiatives. Broader networking will include the delivery of online courses, training schools, short-term scientific and policy missions, and community engagement.

Areas of expertise particularly relevant for the Action are gender and sexuality studies, organisation studies, political science (democratisation, social movements), sociology (migration, interethnic relations) and educational sciences (training, pedagogy, didactics). The Action can certainly be of interest to gender studies scholars from the various  branches of English studies and they are welcome to join.|Name:overview