Copenhagen 2021

"A Celebration of Diversity"

#YouAreIncluded is the message of Copenhagen 2021, this year's biggest LGBTI+ event. For eleven nights, the Øresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö was illuminated in rainbow colors. Photo: Allan Toft, Øresundsbron

The city of Copenhagen from August 12 thru 22 of this year simultaneously staged WorldPride and the EuroGames under the motto YouAreIncluded. 1,100 events in Copenhagen and Malmö informed and inspired attendees to a higher level of activity and more commitment to human rights. The Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen was one of the highlights.

We came together from the world in our belief that we are born equal. There is space for each and everyone of us. Copenhagen 2021 is a celebration of diversity," said Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark Mary at the opening of the Human Rights Conference on August 17, 2021. This conference was part of Copenhagen 2021, this year's most important LGBTI+ event (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual/transgender and intersexual), which between August 12 and 22 celebrated three premières: it encompassed the WorldPride and EuroGames events, was staged both in Copenhagen and Malmö, and was under royal patronage. Princess Mary knows in times of crisis, minority groups are often disproportionately affected, and the LGBT-community has felt this strongly throughout the pandemic. Challenging times are times in which we unite, times where we come together to find a new path forward and focus on those who are most vulnerable.

Aron le Fèvre showed himself to be vulnerable at the opening of the conference. The director of Human Rights Copenhagen 2021 said: "We live in Denmark, but in Poland, in Hungary, in Georgia, in Turkey… in so many countries – our community gets killed. This hurts me. We need to keep fighting." He spoke with trembling voice and hands. However, le Fèvre actually didn't need any words for communication, his emotions were his message. "The Human Rights Conference is more important than ever if we see the terrible pictures in Afghanistan. This will have an impact on the Afghan LGBT community," is how he commented current world affairs at the media conference in the adjacent CPH Hotel.

“Do your events embody the broadest possible representation of the society we live in?”

Aron le Fèvre, Director of Human Rights at Copenhagen 2021, about the Human Rights Forum, a renewed call for action, the insecurity due to COVID, safe and more inclusive work spaces and the voices of structural and sustainable change.

Picture: Trine Sand Skjøldberg

Six years ago, he began planning the Human Rights Conference all by himself, but at this occasion he was supported by his team of eleven, which was as diverse as the conference program itself. Affected persons from all over the world made themselves heard, be it on the stage or via live conference. Learning about the biography of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, inter* and queer persons provided an entirely different perspective on this issue, the more so as same-gender sexuality is considered a criminal offense in 69 countries, with death sentences threatening in eleven countries.

Countries where homosexuality is illegal:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua & Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cook Islands, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territory (Gaza Strip), Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Source: Official Guide Copenhagen 2021

Ken Brix Andersen certainly wasn't going to miss the Human Rights Conference staged in the Øksenehallen, the former 5,000-sqm stockyard converted into an event-staging facility. The Øksenehallen and the CPH Hotel are located only a few walking minutes away from Central Copenhagen railway station; both operations are affiliated to the DGI-Byen Group, where Andersen holds position as Development Executive. He interacted with Aron le Fèvre for the past six years, and there is accordingly no doubt in his mind, "This Human Rights Conference is absolutely relevant to Copenhagen. Copenhagen is an open and tolerant city. We want to tell and show the world how tolerant we are. In other cities this conference could not go out in the city. It is very important to bring out this message: You are included!"

Ken Brix Andersen, Development Executive of DGI-Byen, and Anne Marie Barsøe, Manager Press and PR at Wonderful Copenhagen, at the Human Rights Conference in the Øksenehallen. "This Human Rights Conference is absolutely relevant to Copenhagen." Photo: tw tagungswirtschaft

Focus on Human Rights The Human Rights Conference between August 17 and 19 had its focus on the global LGBTI+ situation. The first conference day started with "Impact of COVID19 on the LGBTI+ Community" and ended with "The role of Europe for LGBTI+ Inclusion at Home and Abroad". The program included statements by high-ranking officials such as Michelle Bachelet, UN-High Commissioner for Human Rights, eight plenary sessions, more than 50 break-out meetings, four sphere sessions, networking get-togethers, and meet-and-greets.

"What a Human Rights Conference can achieve? Politicians react on pressure. So I hope that we will have a strong message, a strong message that human rights need to be protected.“

Terry Reintke, Vice-Chair of the Greens/EFA Group

Contents range across ten subject areas including politics and law, education, labor market and civil society as well as 'Pride' as global movement for human rights. The conference is part of the Human Rights Forum in context with Copenhagen 2021. At all events, focus is clearly on human rights in order to drive equality and diversity, and the LGBTI+ Fair in the UN City as well as the Øresund Declaration, the legacy of Copenhagen 2021, play a substantial role here.

The Øresund Declaration

The Øresund Declaration is a multi-level statement of intent for global LGBTI+ equality by 2030. It will be at the core of the legacy of Copenhagen 2021, ensuring the causes we highlight in August 2021 will have longevity long beyond the event.

While access to the Human Rights Conference and the Interparliamentary Plenary Assembly in Christiansborg Palace, the Danish Parliament, was restricted to registered persons or invited guests, the 1:1 Democracy Festival was open to all. Directly outside the Øksenehallen, the Human Rights Conference venue, Amnesty International and KPMG were among the organizations and private enterprises seeking to engage in discussions. Business advisor KPMG is proud partner to WorldPride and EuroGames. "Through this partnership we emphasize the importance of equality for all, no matter who you are, who you love, or what you believe in. At KPMG, our people are our most valued resource and we wish to create a culture where everyone feels safe and has the courage to be themselves."

At the 1:1 Democracy Festival outside the Øksenehallen, KPMG staff are interacting with Human Rights Conference participants and the general public. Picture: tw tagungswirtschaft

Copenhagen 2021 based on four pillars Copenhagen 2021 was based on four thematic pillars: WorldPride and EuroPride, EuroGames, Art and Culture. "Pride is the biggest Human Rights movements. We are the smallest WorldPride in the world with Copenhagen 2021, but with the biggest Human Rights Forum with 1,000 delegates. New York had only 200 delegates,“ Steve Taylor said proudly. The Head of Communication of Copenhagen 2021 had his Media Centre located in the Dansk Industri building. The Danish industrial association with 18,000 members ranked among the leading supporters of Copenhagen 2021. From his office, Taylor had a view on city hall plaza, which during the event had been rechristened WorldPride Square and with stage and booths was a perfect forum for meetings and discussions. It is important to Taylor that the event will continue to have a sustained effect. "Human Rights underpins everything we do and the Øresund Declaration with 15 demands for LGBT by 2030 will be our legacy piece. We won’t delete our files but share them and publish them in December online. We want to be an open source."

"We won’t delete our files but share them and publish them in December online. We want to be an open source."

Steve Taylor, Head of Communication of Copenhagen 2021

WorldPride, the most important global biennial LGBTI+ event, will open its doors again in Sydney from February 17 thru March 5, 2023; EuroPride in 2022 will relocate to Belgrade, and EuroGames will migrate to Nijmegen. This was the first time that WorldPride took place in Scandinavia, after stations in Rome, Jerusalem, London, Toronto, Madrid and most recently New York City. WorldPride is licensed by InterPride and in 2021 was organized by Happy Copenhagen, a project organization founded by Copenhagen Pride. Next to the Opening Ceremony, the most significant WorldPride events are the WorldPride Concerts and the WorldPride Parade. This year's grand parade was canceled due to the pandemic to be substituted by a series of small walks in order to increase awareness of LGBTI+ issues.

The license for the EuroGames is held by Pan Idræ. In 2021, about 2,000 athletes from 50 countries competed in 22 sport disciplines. A "Sports To The People Program" with 70 public sports activities was staged across Copenhagen; Islands Brygge was transformed into a Sports Village. Culture institutions in Copenhagen and Malmö organized around 700 events, which included theaters and fine-art centers such as Nationalmuseet, Folketeatret, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Kulturhuset Islands Brygge as well as Copenhagen's historic Gammel Strand for the Fluid Festival, which celebrated women and non-binary identities.

"Pride means for me standing up for myself in the world. Demanding respect. Being visible and impossible to ignore. A show of strength and defiance and a way to recharge our batteries by showing up for each other."

Lars Oskan-Henriksen, Director of WorldPride at Copenhagen 2021 WorldPride & EuroGames

The pandemic as biggest challenge "The pandemic is the biggest challenge for Copenhagen 2021," said communications director Taylor and he added, "Covid has derailed our plans. Rules and regulations have changed constantly and often without notice." The organizers had initially anticipated one million domestic visitors and between 250,000 and 300,000 from abroad, real turnout was at 250,000 to 300,000 domestic and between 35,000 and 40,000 foreign visitors. At the date Copenhagen 2021 was actually staged, 74.4% of the Danish population had been fully vaccinated against Covid and 84.2% had their first vaccination (source: SSI–Statens Serum Institut; August 16, 2021). Regulations on social distancing and hygiene are similar to those in Germany; Danes have access to a 'Coronapas', which in context with the EU Covid Digital Certificate proves that its bearer is vaccinated, recovered or tested with a PCR test no more than 96 hours ago. Wearing masks is voluntary, a mask mandate is no longer in effect in Copenhagen: neither in public transport nor at venues, hotels or restaurants – with the international airport being an exception.

Covid19 – Staying safe at WorldPride and EuroGames

We are acting on the advice of the Danish and Swedish health authorities and police, and local and national governments. We are committed to ensuring the safety of all participants at all of our venues. All our events are going ahead, and you can read more about all our events on our website and in our app. Access to venues via Coronapas.

Steve Taylor did see a silver lining on the horizon. "The pandemic forced us to rethink events and to make them more accessible with new platforms. Many people in the Global South could not attend, now they can engage with others." The majority of Pride Organizations were compelled to think digitally and in the future will integrate digital elements into their events. Copenhagen 2021 resorted to YouTube for live-streaming and Zoom and Slido for breakouts. Taylor pointed out that they had only a small budget at their disposition. The city of Copenhagen allocated 17.3 million Danish kroners and Taylor emphasized, "Denmark and Copenhagen were hugely supportive. It was the best supported Pride event by the government, the ministries, Wonderful Copenhagen and all municipal organizations – financially, emotionally and practically."

"The pandemic forced us to rethink events and to make them more accessible with new platforms."

Steve Taylor, Head of Communication of Copenhagen 2021

The event was supported by numerous partners and sponsors. Official Sponsors included Coca Cola and Danske Bank, among the Official Partners were Lego and KPMG, and IBM and Nordic Choice Hotels with 200 hotels were sponsors. Petter A. Stordalen, founder of Nordic Choice Hotels, considers WorldPride to be one of the most important events. For him, diversity is an essential cultural achievement, and his Stordalen Foundation strongly advocates sustainability. This is shown by Villa Copenhagen, today a 5-star hotel with 390 rooms and suites directly at the central railroad station. The Norwegian billionaire invested 1.7 billion Danish kroners into the acquisition and conversion of the former post and telegraph station dating from 1912 and he opened this venue for business in July 2020 – in the midst of the Corona crisis. Reservations made up to that time for rooms and conferences in the three 400-sqm meeting rooms, the ballroom, and the eight breakout rooms were cancelled. One year later, the hotel has an occupancy rate of around 50 percent, the breakout rooms are predominantly booked by Danish firms.

The Villa Copenhagen opened in July 2020 – in the midst of the Corona crisis. The former post and telegraph station dating from 1912 today features 390 rooms and suites. Photo: Villa Copenhagen, Stine Christiansen

"Since August, most severe restrictions have been gradually lifted in Denmark – this includes facemasks, crowd sizes, meeting restrictions, restaurant and bar restrictions including opening hours etc.. In general, the Danes and their social life are closer to normal than at any time before during Covid 19. This is due to close monitoring and high levels of testing," described General Manager Peter Høgh Pedersen on the Covid-19 situation in Denmark and Villa Copenhagen end of August. The 'Coronapas' and distancing rules are scheduled to be obsolete in September. In general, hand sanitizer is still widely available and used in many public spaces including Villa Copenhagen and the staff remains vigilant and aware of the situation and various levels of concern from the guests. "As for Villa Copenhagen, we see increased demand for larger meetings and events and in general the Danish population appears more relaxed as a result of the above achievements in the testing and vaccination process," said General Manager Høgh Pedersen.

New and upcoming hotels in Copenhagen 2021 and 2022

Despite the covid-19 pandemic, Copenhagen is on track with new additions to the city's hotel scene. Here we take a look at some of the new hotels and those set to be unveiled in 2021 and beyond:

  • Comwell Copenhagen Portside (January)
  • Comfort Hotel Copenhagen Airport (March)
  • Scandic CPH Strandpark (May)
  • NH Collection (September)
  • Scandic Nørreport (November)
  • Scandic Spectrum (March 2022)

Among the Institutional Supporters were Wonderful Copenhagen and thus also the Convention Bureau. In addition to advertising the event, the Copenhagen Convention Bureau also masterminded fundraising and the creative process leading to the bid. The team around Kit Lykketoft, Head of Convention, interacted closely with the organizers Happy Copenhagen. They considered Copenhagen 2021 to be a major occasion. Said Lykketoft, "Diversity is an essential asset of this destination, and both being awarded and organizing this international event impressively highlights this."

Lars Oskan-Henriksen asserted, "Copenhagen 2021 is not a bubble of its own but integrated in the city." The Director of WorldPride at Copenhagen 2021 WorldPride and EuroGames knows well that this is not at all a matter of course and certainly not imaginable everywhere. "We also live in a time where LGBTI+ rights are being challenged in many places – also in Europe." Which happened just recently at the Euro2020 when Hungary enacted a new Anti-LGBTQ law.

Photo: Wonderful Copenhagen

"The matter of diversity is here to stay“

Kit Lykketoft, Head of Convention at Copenhagen Convention Bureau, talks about Copenhagen 2021 and a growing attention to the equality and diversity agendas – and to the feeling of belonging.

Copenhagen 2021 is the largest LGBTI+ event in 2021. Why does it matter for Copenhagen as a destination for conferences and events? Copenhagen 2021 has been great importance for Copenhagen for several reasons. Diversity is a core value at the destination, and both winning and staging the international event, underscores this considerably. Looking to the future, the ambition is to show the world, that Copenhagen and the locals support equal rights for all, just as we support the UN SDGs, and that the topic is something that matters – or should matter – to any event held. How did the convention team at Wonderful Copenhagen CVB support the organizers? Besides promoting the event following the win, Wonderful Copenhagen CVB was lead on the fundraising and creative process leading to the bid in close collaboration with Happy Copenhagen, the organizers of the event. We also participated in Indianapolis, when the bid was won. Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark said: „Copenhagen 2021 is a celebration of diversity.“ Do you think that the issue of diversity will play a greater role at events in the future? Without doubt, the matter of diversity is here to stay. There is a growing attention to the equality and diversity agendas – and to the feeling of belonging. The latter has become key for events held today and in future. Copenhagen 2021 was held under the headline „You are included“, and thus clearly signalling that no matter who you are, you are welcome in Copenhagen, and which should be felt when visiting too. If you are truly able to create that feeling at an event, then success is inevitable.

The Greater Copenhagen region is home to four million inhabitants and extends from eastern Denmark to southern Sweden joined by the Øresund Bridge. Denmark and Sweden have for decades been ranking among the world's most progressive countries when it comes to equality of LGBTI+. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Denmark in 1933, Sweden followed suit in 1944. Denmark played a pioneering role in 1989 when the world's first legally-effective same-gender civil partnership was registered at the Copenhagen city hall. Danes and Swedes alike are seeking to improve the gender-equality situation for the LGBTI+ communities. During the Copenhagen 2021 event, rainbow flags and colors were on display all over Copenhagen and Malmö. And while the Foreign Ministry projected a rainbow into the sky in the direction of Christiansborg, the seat of the Danish parliament, the pylons along the Øresund Bridge and the Ørsted wind turbines at the Avedøre power plant were illuminated in rainbow colors: #YouAreIncluded.

Kerstin Wünsch

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