MEPs hope the non-binding declaration, which was supported by the vast majority of deputies in a vote, will now put pressure on the European Commission and Council to take action against any government discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
But Polish MEP and ECR joint leader Ryszard Legutko immediately branded the decision as “absurd.”
Parliament’s declaration comes in response to what is deemed to be “institutionalised discrimination” facing the LGBTI community in Poland and Hungary and “rising levels of homophobic hate crime” across Europe.
Members condemned what they called a “violent clampdown” on LGBT activists in Poland and the attempt to ban adoption for same-sex couples in Hungary, saying this “shows that the backlash against LGBT rights in some EU countries is very real.”
An example cited came last week when the Hungarian media authority initiated proceedings against a TV channel for broadcasting an advertisement about LGBT families.
“With this historic resolution, we give our support to denouncing the atrocious creation of ‘LGBTI-free zones’ in Poland, an action which risks dragging Europe back to its darkest ages” Cyrus Engerer, S&D
In a debate on the issue in Parliament on Wednesday, most members united in “strongly denouncing the numerous attacks faced by the LGBTI community.”
French Renew Europe member Pierre Karleskind, one of the initiators of the parliamentary resolution, told the plenary it had sent “a loud, clear and strong message to LGBTIQ people all around Europe: Your freedom matters, your freedom will prevail.”
He hopes the move will be a “starting point of an unstoppable counter-attack of freedom against hatred in every corner of our Union.”
Dutch colleague Sophie in ‘t Veld told members, “Europe belongs to all of us. It is home to all of us. Therefore all of us must be free and safe in Europe. When some governments choose to condone or even endorse hatred against people, on the basis of who they are and whom they love, we must resist.”
Her comments were endorsed by Socialist member Cyrus Engerer who told MEPs, “With this historic resolution, we give our support to denouncing the atrocious creation of ‘LGBTI-free zones’ in Poland, an action which risks dragging Europe back to its darkest ages.”
“All of us must be free and safe in Europe. When some governments choose to condone or even endorse hatred against people, on the basis of who they are and whom they love, we must resist” Sophie in ‘t Veld, Renew Europe
Marc Angel, S&D co-chair of the LGBTI Intergroup in Parliament, also cited the tragic death at the weekend of a gay man in Belgium. Two teenagers have since been arrested in connection with the murder of 42-year-old David Polfliet whose body was found by a railway line in Flanders.
Police said he had been lured to a park by three men using a dating app. Beveren police have now started an investigation into a possible gang targeting homosexuals.
Angel said, “The murder of David Polfliet in Belgium was a cruel and horrific attack on a gay man, a planned instance of blatant and violent homophobia.”
Legutko, however, spoke out against the declaration, telling members, “The text prepared by Parliament is absurd and shows that this chamber has become a great ideological machine that wants to create a new human in the EU, even at the cost of breaking the law and violating the truth.”
“In law, Article 9 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights provides that marriage and family matters are governed by national laws.”
“The text prepared by Parliament is absurd and shows that this chamber has become a great ideological machine that wants to create a new human in the EU, even at the cost of breaking the law and violating the truth”
Ryszard Legutko, ECR
He said, “When local governments defend the family, refuse to indoctrinate children without parental consent, and refuse ideological officers entering schools and telling children absurdities about gender and sexual fluidity, they are based on national law, the constitution of states and the Charter.”
“Defending the family is their sacred right. They must not be deprived of this right because there is no legal or moral obligation to admit any indoctrinator into schools, even if this indoctrinator has powerful supporters in the EU institutions.”
“The outcome will be counterproductive due to the violence it contains. So calm down ideologically, let people live, don't make a revolution, make the Union a free zone for common sense.”