Strasbourg round-up: EU urged to develop roadmap to combat homophobia

With MEPs voting to call for an EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, key rapporteurs Ulrike Lunacek, Michael Cashman and Dennis de Jong give us their views.

Ulrike Lunacek is parliament's rapporteur on homophobia and discrimination on grounds on sexual orientation and gender identity

Homophobia must not be tolerated anymore in Europe - this captures the essence of my report. Despite clear anti-discrimination rules in the charter of fundamental rights and existing laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination, notably in the field of employment, LGBT people still face near-daily discrimination, harassment and violence. This is confirmed by several national surveys and studies, but also by the fundamental rights agency's EU LGBT survey presented last year.

Almost half (47 per cent) of the more than 93,000 respondents felt personally discriminated against or harassed on grounds of sexual orientation. As many as two thirds said they were afraid of holding hands in public with their same-sex partner. And 26 per cent of LGBT respondents said they had been attacked or threatened with violence within the last five years (the figure is even higher for transgender individuals, at 35 per cent).

"Fear must not prevail in the lives of Europeans young and old, women and men, lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender"

We can't carry on like this. Fear must not prevail in the lives of Europeans young and old, women and men, lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender. It is high time for the European Union and national member states to up their game, and make clear commitments against homophobia - similar to those that already exist to end discrimination against people with disabilities or of the Roma people.

Of course, opponents were rising against this report via online petitions and tens of thousands of emails to myself and colleagues. They have the right to disagree with our work, but their tactics are not agreeable: defamation, misinformation and downright lies should not be sent round by the thousands.

Fear-mongering is the exact opposite of what I and the shadow rapporteurs from five political groups intend with this report. A strong majority of MEPs showed the opponents of our rights what this parliament stands for: human rights, non-discrimination, dignity, equality.

We lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have lived our lives in fear for too long. Fear of holding hands on the street, fear of being called names, fear of being thrown out of our house or job. My report says the EU must act on this, so that we, too, may enjoy the rights guaranteed to all in the EU.


Michael Cashman is parliament's S&D group shadow rapporteur on homophobia and discrimination on grounds on sexual orientation and gender identity

In the last three years, the parliament has requested on at least 10 occasions that the European commission start working on a roadmap against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the absence of action by the commission, it has written one itself.

The need for an EU roadmap is high as discrimination is persistent and is EU-wide. Data from the EU's fundamental rights agency (FRA) show that almost half of all LGBT people living in the EU have felt discriminated against or harassed in the last 12 months. One in four - 26 per cent - of LGBT people has been attacked or threatened with violence over the last five years. This data should remind us that we need to step up efforts to fight against the discrimination of LGBT people.

"One in four - 26 per cent - of LGBT people has been attacked or threatened with violence over the last five years. This data should remind us that we need to step up efforts to fight against the discrimination of LGBT people"

Over this mandate, the commission and parliament have already worked together in some fields to guarantee equal treatment. An example is the successions directive, which ensures that national laws on successions are respected throughout the European Union. In this way, a Spanish citizen married to an Italian of the same-sex under Spanish law could inherit his or her possessions in Italy, even though Italy does not recognise same-sex marriage.

Although it's an important development, it is nothing but a drop in the ocean if it's not accompanied by other measures to recognise the effects of civil status documents. Currently, a same-sex couple may still lose pension, inheritance, next-of-kin or child custody rights when moving to Italy, gravely violating the equal treatment of citizens.

Additionally, the commission and parliament cooperated to guarantee specific assistance and protection to people who suffered from crime because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Nevertheless, European hate crime legislation still does not tackle bias-motivated crime against LGBT people.

The draft roadmap adopted by parliament is designed to prevent an incoherent piecemeal approach, which loses the bigger picture. Coherent and concerted action is necessary to combat discrimination and guarantee equal treatment in employment, education, health, goods and services, free movement, freedom of expression, hate crime, asylum, and foreign relations. We need to identify problems and agree on goals, to ensure that LGBT equality becomes a reality, not an unattainable dream.


Dennis de Jong is parliament's GUE/NGL shadow rapporteur on homophobia and discrimination on grounds on sexual orientation and gender identity

According to the likes of [French Front National MEP] Marine Le Pen this report is about the introduction of EU-wide gay marriage. This is simply nonsense. It is about preventing discrimination of same-sex couples. Parliament's adoption of this report is a positive step as it will put pressure on the commission to finally produce a roadmap against homophobia before the end of the current mandate.

(Press release)

Categories

Justice
Share this page