24th Oct 2016


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.


Hate speech costs lives, EU warns

Hate speech, whether homophobic or islamophobic, can prompt violent crime, justice commissioner Vera Jourova has warned in the wake of the Orlando and Jo Cox killings.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity