Tuesday

15th Oct 2019

Focus

MEPs condemn homophobia in eastern Europe

  • The resolution defines homophobia as “the irrational fear of homosexuality” (Photo: compscigrad)

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.

"The European Parliament strongly condemns any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender indentity," it said in a non-legislative resolution adopted on Thursday (24 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"[Parliament] strongly regrets that, in the EU, the fundamental rights of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi- and transexual] people are not yet always fully upheld," it added.,

"[It] is gravely concerned by developments which restrict freedom of expression and assembly on the basis of misconceptions about homosexuality and transgenderism."

The resolution - which defines homophobia as "the irrational fear of homosexuality" - was backed by all political groups - except for the nationalist and conservative eurosceptics. It was adopted by 430 votes in favour and 105 against (59 members abstained and 160 did not vote).

It was the fourth such resolution in the history of the parliament and the first one in its 2009-2014 legislature. But while the former resolution of 2007 singled out Poland for putting forward anti-gay legislation, the current five-page document points to a longer list of countries.

In Russia, regional laws have been enacted banning so-called "propaganda of homosexuality” with fines of up to €12,700. The country's national parliament is currently considering a similar law, as are MPs in Ukraine. Similar bills have been tabled in Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary.

British socialist MEP Michael Cashman, co-president of the parliament's LGBT intergroup, made an emotional plea on Tuesday when the chamber debated the resolution.

"[These] laws ... are a step backwards," he said. "[They are] to say that in order to have the protection and respect of states and institutions you must conform to a very narrow stereotype."

"I myself have experienced homophobia, but very, very rarely. Why? Because I was given the benefit of a family, a society, an education that supported me to become who I am, to be proud of who I am, ... That aspiration and opportunity must be given to everybody in the EU."

The resolution comes one week after EU leaders celebrated the international day against homophobia on 17 May, with justice commissioner Viviane Reding and EU Council President Herman van Rompuy joining MEPs in a gay-friendly video message.

Suicide and social exclusion are still more prevalent among LGBT people than among their heterosexual contemporaries.

Also on 17 May, anti-gay activists in Saint Petersburg thrashed people releasing rainbow-coloured balloons.

One week later, similar groups in Ukraine managed to stop what would have been the first-ever gay pride march in Kiev, threatening physical violence and, after it had been cancelled, beating up the organiser of the event in the street.

Dutch Green MEP Marije Cornelissen - the only Brussels representative at the scene - said that the gay pride organisers were well prepared, keeping the venue secret until the very last moment, but that police refused to guarantee their safety after the location had been uncovered.

"There was a lot of police present," she told EUobserver "but they didn't do anything. There were no barricades. They made no effort to push these people back. It is clear that they had not received strict orders to provide safety to the gay pride marchers."

For her part, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in a communique on Thursday "expresse[d] her solidarity with the victims of these acts."

EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Latest News

  1. EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey
  2. Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms
  3. Poland's right-wing ruler wins four more years
  4. EU powerless in new Syrian mayhem
  5. Hungarian opposition wins Budapest in blow to Orban
  6. New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers
  7. EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret
  8. Brexit nail-biter and EU nominations This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us