26th Jan 2020

MEPs call for EU action to protect homosexuals

The EU should do more to prevent discrimination against homosexuals, several MEPs pointed out at a plenary debate in Strasbourg, on Monday (16 January).

The discussion followed a statement by the European Commission on homophobia in Europe, in which vice-president Franco Frattini highlighted existing EU legislation, which rules out discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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  • EU legislation rules out discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (Photo: EUobserver)

"Homophobia is in breach of human rights and we are monitoring this issue in the member states and report on the cases where our efforts have been unsuccessful," Mr Frattini stated.

However, he received a number of critical remarks from deputies, asking for more action by the commission and more outspoken pressure on governments in countries with recent incidents pointing to homophobic trends among their citizens as well as political leaders.

The harshest criticism was levelled against Poland and Polish leaders, with MEPs condemning statements by leading politicians and blockades of pro-gay marches by local authorities in Warsaw and Poznan.

"If we do nothing, we are complicit to the crimes of violence we can see happening in many EU member states," said British labour MEP Michael Cashman, stressing that as a gay himself, he is disappointed such negative sentiments persist in Europe.

On the other hand, Polish MEP Konrad Szymanski from the group Union of Europe of the Nations argued the whole debate was a "waste of time" and suggested that MEPs should not be "hysterical" about the situation of homosexuals in the EU.

"Member states have their legal instruments to protect the rights of their citizens, and there is no need to organise some sort of union to protect homosexuals, as it would - quite on the contrary - undermine European integration," Mr Szymanski said.

A number of MEPs referred to problems of homosexual couples that have some social rights in one EU country but "lose" them when moving across borders, with Finnish conservative deputy Alexander Stubb arguing it was against the principle of equality valued by the EU.

Green deputies expressed their disappointment over recent decisions by Latvian and Lithuanian parliaments to table amendments to their constitutions prohibiting same-sex marriage.

But countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom received praise from some parliamentarians for their recognition of same-sex marriages or partnerships.

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