Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Focus

Handful of bids for EU agencies mention gay rights

  • The Austrian bid to host the EMA notes that Vienna is 'home to a thriving and diverse LGBTIQ community'. (Photo: Just Call Me Mo)

The position of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) community is specifically mentioned in four of the 27 bids to host one of the London-based EU agencies after Brexit.

Nevertheless, at the presentation of the Austrian bid to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday (11 September), it was made clear that concerns for the LGBTIQ are not yet mainstreamed in all ministries.

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  • Pride in Milan, another candidate city whose bid spent some paragraphs on gay rights (Photo: cesareb)

The EMA and the European Banking Authority (EBA) need to be relocated elsewhere in the EU after the UK leaves, and member states have begun a sort of beauty pageant to convince their peers that their cities are the best destination.

The bids reveal something about what cities think makes them competitive.

The Austrian bid for EMA specifically mentions that Vienna, the candidate city, is "home to a thriving and diverse LGBTIQ community".

"In addition to numerous bars and night clubs, various societies, groups and media in the city advocate for the interests of LGBTIQ persons at different levels," the document sent to all EU member states said.

The bid spends several paragraphs on the issue.

However, the Austrian bid to host the EBA, in the same city, said nothing about the LGBTIQ community.

On Monday, Austrian minister Pamela Rendi-Wagner presented her country's EMA bid in Brussels, and EUobserver asked her at the press conference to explain why no mention of LGBTIQ had been made in the EBA bid.

"I am minister for health, women's affairs and equality in Austria," said Rendi-Wagner. "This is a very important topic. This is always on my mind."

"I think about it," she noted, adding that "maybe the colleagues from the ministry of financial affairs [do] not [have] that [issue] so much in focus when they wrote their bid".

"But the city is the same, I can guarantee it," she said.

(Photo: Council of the European Union)

The other three countries that specifically mention their gay communities are Greece, Italy, and Malta.

The Greek bid to host EMA said equality was "encoded in the DNA of the Greeks".

"Since 2005, Athens has been the proud host of the Athens Pride, organised by a very active LGBT community," it said.

The Italian bid for EMA stressed that all EMA families, "including LGBT families" will have a right to health care.

"Same-sex civil unions, provide same-sex couples with most of the legal protection enjoyed by married couples, including social rights and health assistance," the Italians wrote.

They also noted that Milan, the candidate city, has a special department that offers "free counselling, practical assistance, legal assistance and information on local LGBTQI associations".

Malta, which is also in the race to host EMA, is the fourth country to emphasise its gay-friendliness.

It noted in its bid that the Maltese government is "working towards introducing marriage equality in Malta", and that it recently introduced the option to mark X under gender in identity cards and passports.

"Most Maltese are welcoming to all, and the gay community is thriving. There are also a number of 'gay-friendly' pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and events which may be easily found," the Maltese bid said.

Several other countries do mention their cities' "tolerance and diversity" or "open-minded" people, but not as specifically targeted to the LGBTIQ community as the examples above.

EU member states will decided which city will host the EMA and EBA in November.

Read more on EU agencies in EUobserver's 2017 Regions & Cities Magazine.

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

EU agency relocation race starts with 23 cities

Cities from 21 countries have applied to host the two London-based EU agencies, which will have to be relocated after Brexit, with Luxembourg throwing its hat in for the banking authority.

LGBTI protection still lacking in EU

Despite some welcome advances, some legal rights for the LGBTI community are lacking in EU member states, and the rise of the populist right is making things worse, conference in Warsaw is told.

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