IHLIA Open Up!  is an initiative of IHLIA to reveal the history of LGBT emancipation and development in primarily Central, Eastern and Southeastern (CESE) Europe. It aims to do so by digitising and making accessible via this web interface a wide range of periodicals and organisational archives from several national and international LGBT organisations.

Why does IHLIA Open Up! focus on the countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe? Across this region as a whole, LGBT rights lag behind those of LGBT people in many other parts of Europe. Yet, brave LGBT movements and organisations and individuals continue to push for the freedom, equality and emancipation of LGBT people. The archives and histories of these movements and endeavours are important not only to citizens of Europe, but also to the whole world. They contain unique documents that help us understand how change happened and who our lesser-known heroes are.

Unique Project

Since the start of the Project in September 2011 IHLIA Open Up!  has collected and digitized about 95,000 pages of LGBT documents associated with the CESE Europe region which otherwise would never be findable, visible and retrievable. In the Open Up! Collection we even have material from the 1940s! Being part of IHLIA Open Up!  has given organisations the chance to digitise (a part of) their own archives, to showcase their part in the LGBT history and to share. Therefore we developed a digitisation manual and metadata with keyword descriptions, such as identity, LGBT rights, sexual penal codes and activism, which will allow all published materials to be searched.

The ultimate goal of this unique and dynamic project is to expand the IHLIA Open Up!  Collection with help from many other different LGBT archives and special collections across this region. In this way we are able to open up more LGBT history and therefore gives a better reflection of the special, diverse and colourful LGBT community. See here what you and/or your organisation can do, because only together we can share that we are proud of our history.


IHLIA is an international library, archive, information and documentation centre on homosexuality and sexual diversity, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. IHLIA holds the largest LGBT library collection in Europe. For more information, please visit the website of IHLIA at