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20th Jan 2019

MEP receives 41,000 emails against gay rights

  • MEPs say the European Union currently lacks a comprehensive policy to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTI people (Photo: bubbletea1)

An MEP who drafted a resolution on securing the basic rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people in the EU has so far received almost 41,000 emails against the proposal.

“My website was hacked as well, I don’t know who it was from. It might be coincidence, it might not be a coincidence,” Green Austrian MEP Ulrike Lunacek told the Strasbourg assembly on Monday (3 February).

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A large banner which says "Warning - visiting this website may harm your computer!" has replaced her personal site since last week.

Her office said they are working to get it back to normal. They suspect it was hacked by ultra-conservative groups.

“Such resistance to a report that basically talks about the right of people to love and live their lives without fear, is something I did not expect,” noted Lunacek.

Deputies adopted her report anyway and passed a resolution on Tuesday by 394 in favour. It calls for the EU to draw up a roadmap to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTI people.

Another 176 MEPs from right wing groups in the assembly voted against it, often arguing that the EU should not be tackling family issues.

The parliament has already asked the EU 10 times in the past to draft a policy for equality on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, but it is the first time it adopted a resolution.

The backlash against Lunacek’s initiative is not unique.

Portuguese Social Democrat MEP Edite Estrela received over 200,000 emails against her December report on the sexual and reproductive rights of women.

The parliament did not back her report.

But the offices of both Estrela and Lunacek told this website the email campaigns against the two were organised by the same people.

“This very aggressive campaign was led by the most conservative movements in Europe,” said Estrella.

Lunacek’s assistant said at one point they were receiving around 18 spam emails a minute.

Among the mail pushers is Citizen Go, created by Hazte Oír, a leading international opposition organisation based in Madrid.

The online platform is designed to support petitions against abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and assisted reproductive technologies.

It is partnered with anti-choice organisations like Italy-based Novae Terrae, Brussels-based European Dignity Watch, Austria-based Observatory Against Christianophobia, and Actright.com in the US.

The group sent emails to both Lunacek and Estrella.

EUcheck.org, a German online platform run by “Zivile Koalition,” is also said to lead initiatives and campaigns promoting right-wing populist notions and ultra-conservative ideas.

Lobbypedia.de, a German website, notes Zivile Koalition is headed by Sven von Storch and Beatrix von Storch, born Duchess of Oldenburg, who is also a candidate for the German anti-Euro party “Alternative für Deutschland”.

Meanwhile, “In the Name of the Family," a Church-backed group, collected almost 700,000 signatures last summer to seek a nationwide vote to define marriage as a union between a man and woman in Croatia.

The EU’s newest member state then rejected same-sex marriage in a public referendum in December.

In France, the so-called Manif Pour Tous staged large rallies last year against gay marriage.

Last week, primary students were pulled from classes, in part, to protest against homosexual couples within the public school systems in France.

Juris Lavrikovs at Ilga-Europe, the EU umbrella organisation for the rights of LGBTI people, said such campaigns use misleading information and scare tactics.

He noted that French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, in a television debate aired on France2 on Monday, was using terms like "Lunacek Directive."

“She completely presented wrong information about what it is all about,” he said.

Germany led way on EU rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

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