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Board of Administrators
Joseanne Peregin – Malta – President
Joseanne Peregin is a Maltese Catholic mother of three, one of whom is gay. She has been a voice for parents of LGBTI+ children who feel wounded by the Church or experience social stigma and prejudice, both locally and abroad. https://waysoflove.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/joseanne-peregin-fears-and-hopes-as-a-catholic-mother-of-a-gay-son-a-parents-perspective/ As a life-long member of the Christian Life Community (CLC) http://www.cvx-clc.net/l-en/aboutUs.html she also served as President of CLC Malta between 2008-2014 and believes in building bridges with the hierarchy, to protect and affirm LGBTI+ Persons. She is a co-founder of three organisations: Drachma Parents’ Group Malta; the European Network of Parents of LGBTI+ Persons (ENP); and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC). She has been active in promoting acceptance of LGBTIQ people both in the Church and in society. https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160517/opinion/Radiating-joy-hope-and-love.612311She speaks publicly about the open dialogue held with the Maltese bishops and invites church leaders to accompany parents in their acceptance journey. She was instrumental in influencing public opinion in Malta regarding social acceptance and family reconciliation, during the legislative improvements that Malta undertook, taking it to the top of the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index. She presented a book, Uliedna Rigal (Our children as gift) produced by Drachma, to the local authorities. Written in Maltese, it contains 50 frequently asked questions plus testimonies and the Archbishop purchased 100 copies to give one to each parish, finding it to be a good pastoral tool. She is a member of Malta’s LGBTIQ Consultative Council and participates regularly in seminars and conferences advocating for LGBTIQ wellbeing and building safe spaces for dialogue and LGBTI+ affirmation. She is married to Joseph Peregin for over thirty–five years and has two sons and one daughter.
Marisol Ortiz – Spain – Secretary
Marisol is married and the proud mother of two daughters, the elder one is an LGBT person.
Since 2017, Marisol is AMPGYL representative at ENP and she collaborated with ENP board. AMPGYL, the Spanish association of parents of LGBT people ( families against gender intolerance) is one of the founding members of ENP.
In the eighties, Marisol joined the Christian Life Community (CVX.- CLC), an international association of lay Christian who have adopted an Ignatian model of spiritual life. Focused on family pastoral care, she is nowadays in charge of the CVX Family mission team.
She says that her activism consists of building rainbow bridges between people, society and religion.
She has an MBA in business administration and she is working in the financial department of a publishing company.
Louisa Grech – Malta – Treasurer
Louisa Grech graduated from the University of Malta with a degree in Philosophy and History. Later on in life, she re-entered university to get her teacher’s warrant. Louisa is married and the mother of three sons and a daughter, who died tragically at the tender age of 21 months. Of her three sons, the youngest has Down syndrome and one of the older ones is gay. Louisa has been an active member in society throughout her life, forming part of a Catholic prayer group called Christ Our Neighbour. She worked voluntarily with people on the margins throughout her youth.
When her youngest son was born with Down syndrome, she worked incessantly to raise awareness about the potential and capabilities of persons with intellectual disabilities. For 8 years she was the editor of the DSA (Down Syndrome Association, Malta) magazine, News & Views, which provided the community with articles on the latest research, information as well as experiences in the field. She was also CEO of Equal Partners Foundation, an NGO working closely with families to provide Early Intervention services and ongoing educational services to provide skills and competencies for independence and good quality of life. She has been a strong advocate in this field for the past 30 years, forming part of many committees both within the government and other NGOs. She also delivered courses and gave lectures to University students.
When her son came out as gay, she became involved, after a period of reflection, as an advocate and a voice in this area as well. She feels that she has a lot to contribute and her past experience is helping her to forge on. She was elected as Coordinator of Drachma Parents in 2020. She has participated in media activities and written articles to raise awareness and combat homophobia. See some of her contributions here:
Board of Consultors:
Maria Augusta Santos
Mirjana, (born on May 18, 1978. in Novi Sad/Serbia), master of vocational education, employed in the Preschool institution “Radosno detinjstvo”/”Happy Childhood”/ in Novi Sad since 2009. Before that, worked professionally as a journalist in a daily newspaper. Awarded the Annual UNICEF Award for the best journalistic text in print media in Serbia on the topic of children and children’s rights for the text “A disabled child also is a victim of incest” in 2008. Awarded for her literary works (poetry and prose) at various international competitions. Literary works represented in more than twenty poetry, prose and essay collections and co-authored books. The story “Savasana” published in the book “Letter for Esteban and other stories” was included among the most successful in the “Optimist” magazine competition dedicated to the LGBT+ theme in 2020. (under the auspices of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights in Serbia).
Professional co-authored works published in collections dedicated to preschool education. Presented at expert meetings in the field of preschool pedagogy. The master’s thesis on the topic “Preschool educational profession from the perspective of preschool educators” is the first and so far the only extensive research of this profession in Serbia from a preschool educational perspective. Participant in the current ERASMUS+ project of non-governmental organizations from Malta, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Serbia dedicated to providing support to trans and gender diverse children and young people. Activist at non-governmental organizations. Advocates the democratization of society and the strengthening of civil rights and freedoms, with respect for individuals and society as a whole. It supports the holistic development of children and ensuring equal access to educational, cultural, health and other essential resources. She lives and works in Kać and Novi Sad (Serbia). Single mother of two young adult girls.
Ayse Siyma (Sheema) Barkin Kuzmin (She/her)
Siyma has a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey and a master of science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the Pennsylvania State University in the USA. She has been working on child rights and child protection issues since the early 1990s. She has worked at UNICEF in the child protection field for more than 20 years in 5 countries. She is involved with Listag in Turkey as a member, volunteer, and activist. Currently, she lives in Geneva with her husband and 2 children. She is a firm believer in the role parents play in the healthy upbringing of their children through love, acceptance and full support and continues to advocate for the realisation of the rights of ALL children.
Rūta Žarskienė (Šimonytė) was born in 1964 in Vilnius, Lithuania. She has an adult trans daughter. She attends an emotional support group for the parents of LGBTQ+ children since 2016. She took part in the ENP meetings in Malta (2017), Lisbon (2018) and in Almada, Portugal (2022). She is one of the founders of the church group “LGBT Catholics and their parents” which was established in the Bernardines church (Vilnius) in 2018. She gave several interviews on the topic of LGBT for different Lithuanian media. Since 2021 she is a member of the organisation “Mothers of LGBTQ+ children”. The organisation provides support to families who have children in the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for their rights. In 2022 “Mothers of LGBTQ+children” held a series of meetings with politicians to promote The Law on Civil Partnership, which would allow LGBTQ+ persons to legalise their relationships. The organisation also provides financial support to parents of these children to help them receive therapy.