Saturday

27th May 2017

Focus

Malmstrom: Europe "too cowardly" to confront homophobia

  • Not much has changed from last year's Rainbow Map. (Photo: ILGA-Europe)

EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has said Europe is "too cowardly" to stand up to mounting homophobia.

"I must say that what is going on now, in recent years, makes me quite scared. We hear ... homophobic speeches and reports of violence against LGBTI people. What we are witnessing is not a society [moving] towards openness and tolerance. It is rather the opposite," she said at an event in Brussels on Tuesday (15 May), on the eve of the international day against homophobia on 17 May.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The main problem is the lack of people standing up for values in Europe today, the amount of people who are too cowardly to question this rhetoric," she added.

"This goes for politicians, governments, companies, but also for ordinary citizens ... There is a lack of political leadership [and] far too many ordinary citizens do not stand up against such developments," she added.

Asked by EUobserver if the European Commission is also failing on political leadership, she answered: "We could probably do more."

Malmstrom spoke at a meeting organised by Ilga Europe, a Brussels-based NGO campaigning for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The event saw the launch of what is to become Ilga Europe's annual report on the state of play of LGBTI rights in Europe.

The survey looks at 42 legal criteria ranging from entitlement to adoption to compulsory sterilisation in the case of gender change and covers 49 European countries.

It said "great progress was achieved ... particularly in the fields of asylum and protection from violence."

But it added that "in some countries there is either no progress whatsoever, or worse." The press release accompanying the study also said "none of the countries in Europe can provide full legal equality for LGBTI people."

The UK was judged the most gay-friendly European country, scoring 21 points on a scale from -12 to 30. It was followed by Germany (20), Spain (20), Sweden (18) and Belgium (17). The worst country was Moldova (-4.5), followed by Russia (-4.5), Armenia (-4), Azerbaijan (-4), Macedonia (-4) and Ukraine (-4).

Earlier this month, a gay rights activist was fined in Saint-Petersburg for violation of a local law banning pro-gay "propaganda." A similar bill is currently making its way through Russia's national parliament.

The report comes with a so-called "Rainbow Map" of the old continent, going from deep red in the east to green in the west. Spain (20) and Portugal (15) are green in the south. But France (6) and Italy (2.5) are less gay-friendly.

Ilga Europe director, Evelyne Paradis gave an upbeat statement.

"The homophobic rhetoric of today is mostly a reaction to the fact that the [LGBTI] movement has grown so strong," she told this website.

She added that the economic crisis and "complacency" risk making the EU commission "weak" on fundamental rights.

"We have a commissioner for fundamental rights, we have a charter of fundamental rights. And yet I have the feeling that before [the crisis], they talked about it more. We are entering the zone of complacency," she noted.

MEPs condemn homophobia in eastern Europe

MEPs from across the political spectrum have criticised EU member states Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary, as well as neighbouring Russia, Ukraine and Moldova over an upsurge in homophobia.

Intersex people in EU: ashamed and invisible

Mainstream European society is slowly coming to understand lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But intersex people in the EU live largely in the dark.

Lithuania helps gay Chechens flee Russia

Linas Linkevicius, foreign minister of Lithuania, said his country issued visas to two persecuted Chechens and that an international effort was underway to protect others.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms