11 July 2020
The European Patent Office flies today the iconic rainbow flag to mark the opening of the Munich Christopher Street Day celebrations and to show its support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) community at its headquarters of the Isar building.
Christopher Street Day is an annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community celebration, characterised by vibrant events in cities throughout Europe and aiming at raising awareness of the rights of LGBT+ people. Tens of thousands of revellers and supporters participate each year but as a result of coronavirus, these mass gatherings were cancelled or postponed.
In Munich, the Christopher Street Day celebrations would have taken place today and while the event was cancelled, the spirit of diversity remains. Nellie Simon, EPO Vice President Corporate Services and chair of the organisation's Diversity & Inclusion Panel, was in attendance at the EPO's Munich flag raising and stated "We can become the collaborative and engaged organisation we aspire to be, when everyone at the Office can work and live in a state of inclusion and appreciation of our diversity".
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) feature in the EPO's Strategic Plan. The recently published Annual Review 2019 highlights several successful D&I measures the Office has carried out in the past year - these include a mentorship programme for women, a new disability policy, and D&I training for managers.
The EPO is also a signatory of the Charta der Vielfalt, an initiative aimed at promoting diversity in companies and institutions. Signatories pledge to encourage a work environment that is free of bias, and values all employees regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or worldview, physical ability, age, sexual orientation and identity. The Office signed the charter in 2010, the same year it officially recognised same-sex marriages.
On 31 July, on the occasion of the start of the Amsterdam Christopher Street festivities, the EPO will also be flying the rainbow flag at its offices in The Hague.
Though now a global celebration of diversity, Christopher Street Day has its origins in civil rights protest. The movement began as a response to police assaults on members of the LGBT+ community in New York in 1969, and later became an occasion to observe this historical turning point. Berlin and Bremen were the first German cities to join the remembrance in 1979, with Munich following one year later. Celebrations in Bavaria's capital attract crowds exceeding 150 000 people.