Plenary to focus on LGBTIQ rights in Poland and Hungary

At the plenary session in Brussels, MEPs will discuss current events in Poland and Hungary in the wake of the introduction of discriminatory laws against the LGBTIQ community in both states.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

09 Mar 2021

A parliamentary resolution condemning the Polish declaration of “LGBTI-free zones” will be discussed later on Tuesday.

A Greens/EFA spokesman said, “Everyone should enjoy the same freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics without fear of discrimination or persecution.”

“LGBTIQ rights are human rights. Equal treatment and non-discrimination are rights enshrined in the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

Socialist member Cyrus Engerer agreed, telling this site, “With this resolution we aim to 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.”

“In this resolution, we are demanding that the Council and Commission take action against any government which goes against these EU values and denounce all attempts to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, be it in Poland, Hungary or anywhere else in the EU,” said the Maltese member.

He added that there should be “particular focus on the challenges faced by the further marginalised communities of transgender and intersex persons when they seek to find recognition, dignity and freedom within the EU.”

“LGBTIQ rights are human rights. Equal treatment and non-discrimination are rights enshrined in the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights” Greens/EFA spokesman

Further comment came from Greens member Terry Reintke, co-president of Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup, who said, “We must make the European Union an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone. Across the political groups, we are sending a strong signal against hate and agitation and opening the door for EU-wide initiatives on freedom, equality and diversity.”

“This is a proud move to show support with all those who are marginalised and attacked because of their sexual orientation. We want to make a promise to everyone who faces hatred and discrimination; that we will and we are making the European Union a place where all people can live and love freely, equally and in diversity.”

She added, “Unfortunately, freedom for all LGBTIQ people is not yet a reality in the EU. That's why we will not stop fighting to defend European values. We call on everyone to stand with those who are attacked because of their sexual orientation.”

On Wednesday, meanwhile, MEPs will debate the attempts by Polish, Hungarian and Slovenian authorities to allegedly “silence” independent media with Council and Commission representatives.

The Greens are among those speaking out on the issue with a spokesman telling this site, “A free and independent media is a crucial pillar of democracy. Poland and Hungary’s attempts to silence opposition newspapers, radio and television stations are clear attacks on these freedoms.”

“With this resolution we aim to 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

“The defiance of EU values by these countries should be evidence enough for the EU to act to sanction the Polish and Hungarian governments. The Greens call on the Commission to use the tools at their disposal to sanction these governments.”

The comments were endorsed by the EPP whose spokesman said, “The Law and Justice (PiS)-led Government is undermining press freedom, most recently by attempting to strip Polish free media of their revenues.”

“We insist that the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, media freedom and the respect of civic freedoms are fundamental values. Free and independent media that keeps citizens informed and holds leaders to account is as crucial for a strong and sustainable democracy as free and fair elections.”

Socialist Birgit Sippel said, “In Poland, Hungary and Slovenia, free and independent media is being crippled by targeted public funding cuts in concerted efforts to silence opposition voices. In recent weeks, journalists faced direct and personal threats on social media from Slovenian EPP Prime Minister, Janez Janša.”

The German member added, “Holding governments to account is a journalist’s job and we cannot allow any efforts to threaten or undermine the freedom of the press to succeed.”

She said Parliament “must put pressure on Council and the Commission to use every tool at their disposal to defend press freedom before the harm spreads elsewhere.”

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