Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

Focus

Reding should 'stick neck out' on gay rights

Activists are hoping EU rights commissioner Viviane Reding will this month announce concrete plans for legislation to stop discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the EU.

The European Parliament has been asking for an LGBTI roadmap - with proposed laws and a timetable - since 2011, noting that the European Commission already has similar strategies in place for disability rights and equality between men and women.

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.

They expect their case to get strengthened by a survey on discrimination against LGBTI people by the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The survey is to be released on 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, marked by a major conference in The Hague, which Reding is to attend.

"We strongly believe it is high time for the EU to translate the commitment to work on LGBTI equality into concrete actions," said Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) Europe.

She said the release of the survey will be a "unique opportunity" to renew its commitment to the issue.

But others note that it is a politically difficult subject.

"Next to abortion, it is the single most sensitive issue to work on. Politicians just prefer to stay away from it," Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld told this website.

She indicated that Reding would have to tackle two formidable groups if she were to go ahead with draft laws on anything from making sex education in schools more diverse, to opening up health care access and criminalising hate speech.

One group would be other politicians, particularly from within Reding's own centre-right political family. The other would be religious leaders.

"I hope she's going to stick her neck out. I always think as a politician you have to tackle things that don’t necessarily make you popular," said in't Veld.

For its part, the commission says that Reding is already an outspoken supporter of LGBTI rights, pointing out that she readily intervenes in national discourse when their rights are being undermined.

Reding's office also says that a recent law on rights for victims of crime is "solid proof" of the EU's commitment to the issue.

The law provides for specific assistance and protection to people who suffered crime because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

It also points out that it follows up on whether member states are properly implementing the Fundamental Rights Charter, whose article 21 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"It's much more important to have actions that count rather than coming up with a roadmap," said Reding's spokesperson Mina Andreeva.

EU on gay rights: words or actions?

MEPs say the EU commission is big on "words, not action" on gay rights. The commission says it uses "actions, not words."

Bulgaria and Italy trail in EU on gay rights legislation

Sexual minorities have the most legal protection in the UK while Bulgaria and Italy trail among EU countries when it comes to equality rights and legislation against homophobic violence and hate speech.

In cooperation with

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  2. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  3. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  4. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  6. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  7. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  8. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  10. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  11. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  12. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People