Saturday

17th Nov 2018

Focus

EU to sponsor gay rights boat, upsetting Hungary

  • There's no information yet on what the EU-sponsored boat will look like (Photo: Bob Lefevere)

The European Commission is, for the first time ever, to take part in a gay pride event by sponsoring an EU boat in a flotilla in Amsterdam in summer.

It is part of a new PR and legislative project warmly welcomed by most EU countries on Monday (7 March).

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

  • The Amsterdam Pride event, which takes place each summer, is among the biggest of its type in Europe (Photo: Isabelle Puaut)

But Hungary doesn’t like the initiative and did not sign up to a statement endorsed by the 27 other member states.

The commission itself also appears to be lukewarm about it.

The EU boat will be one of 80 at the event, which takes place at the end of July. Other participants are to include a boat on the theme of gay athletes sponsored by German sportswear firm Adidas, a Moroccan boat, and a Ukrainian boat carrying a national pop star, Kamaliya.

Danny de Vries, the Amsterdam Gay Pride spokesman, told EUobserver the EU’s application was selected in an open competition.

He said the winning ideas best conveyed the message that “people should be proud of who they are and free to love who they want to love.”

He said Amsterdam Pride this year has the larger status of a Europride event and that it was a “good coincidence” that it comes shortly after the Dutch EU presidency, which ends on 1 July.

De Vries said the commission told organisers it is “the first time” but also “the last time” that it will take part in such an event.

He indicated they chose the EU entry despite not knowing what the boat will look like. “I have no information on whether the commissioner will be on it or not,” De Vries said, referring to Vera Jourova, a Czech politician who is the EU’s top official on justice issues.

The boat is part of a commission action plan on gay rights that was adopted last year.

Other actions include reviving by 2019 an old legal proposal on equal treatment for sexual and other minorities on access to goods and services.

But the gay pride boat appears to have a low place in Jourova’s agenda.

When contacted by EUobserver, the commission’s office in The Hague had no information about it. When asked what the boat would look like or why the commission would not take part in other pride events, Joureva’s spokesman also had no information.

Hungarian sovereignty

Hungary dislikes Joureva’s action plan.

The Dutch EU presidency had hoped to formally endorse her project at a meeting of social affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday.

But Hungary vetoed the statement because, it said, this form of EU promotion of gay rights threatened its sovereignty.

“Hungary could not support the document on the rights of LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex] persons - exclusively prepared by the commission - at the Council meeting in its present form due to the fact that serious concerns related to the sovereignty of the member states were raised,” Dora Bokay, a spokeswoman for Hungary’s EU mission told EUobserver.

Two Dutch ministers told press they were “disappointed” by Budapest.

Ilga-Europe, a Brussels-based gay rights NGO, also said it “would have much preferred to have seen full unanimity.”

But it welcomed the EU group-of-27 message. It said that it “breathes life” into Joureva’s plan and that it shows most EU capitals want “practical progress sooner rather than later.”

Hungary isn’t the only EU member which has held back the commission on gay rights.

German U-turn?

Germany has for a long time said No to the equal treatment directive on goods and services which the commission first proposed 16 years ago.

It has one of the more gay-friendly national jurisdictions in Europe.

But Berlin had said the directive would impose too high a cost on small businesses, such as bars and cafes, which would be forced, among other provisions, to install wheelchair access.

Asked by EUobserver if its decision to undersign Monday’s informal communique meant a U-turn on the equal treatment law, the German mission to the EU declined to comment.

Limited breakthrough for Italian gay rights

The Senate approved a bill recognising same-sex unions, but political manoeuvres led prime minister Matteo Renzi to scrap the green light for gay adoption.

Opinion

Dutch voters could derail gay rights in Ukraine

If Dutch voters stop the EU-Ukraine treaty in a referendum in April, they will help to stall the reform process. What will happen to Ukraine’s LGBT community?

Opinion

Pride 2016: Let's not turn back time

EU politicians should attend gay Pride marches to stop illiberal forces in the EU from turning back the clock on basic civil liberties, such as the freedom to assembly.

Interview

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.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

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 MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us