Friday

18th Jan 2019

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.

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

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

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. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us