Members of the European Parliament have today urged the European Commission to step up the fight against homophobia following the cancellation of gay pride marches across Europe and a spate of new laws criminalising public support for LGBT rights.
The Parliament voted with a large majority (430 for, 105 against). For the first time since the last European elections, all five mainstream political groups co-authored the text, including the centre-right EPP group.
Voting on the resolution today in Strasbourg, MEPs from across the European Parliament united to strongly condemn “any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” and called on national governments to ensure that the LGBT community is protected from anti-gay speech and violence. The Parliament also condemned homophobic hate speech, violence, and murder.
The motion also insists that the European Commission takes positive steps to make progress on a vital piece of draft legislation which ensures the equal treatment of all people regardless of sexuality. The Anti-Discrimination Directive was successfully passed by the European Parliament in April 2009, but has since been blocked by the Council of Ministers.
The Parliament adopted its official position today after a debate on Tuesday, where MEPs almost unanimously asked the European Commission and European governments to better protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Just last week, the annual Pride March in Kiev, Ukraine was cancelled as police forces failed to protect marchers from an estimated 500-1,000 violent far-right protesters. One organiser of the event was sprayed with mace, and another was brutally beaten up by anonymous thugs. On the 17th May, a bus carrying LGBT activists in Saint Petersburg was violently attacked, and two people were injured. In EU countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary as well as in Russia and Ukraine governments have voted for, or are considering, introducing laws that make it a penal or criminal offence to talk positively about homosexuality in public.
Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London and a member of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament, co-signed the resolution and commented:
“Whilst the UK has made significant progress in creating equality before the law, many European citizens still suffer from homophobic attacks, abuse and mistreatment. However, today’s vote proves that those who fan the flames of anti-gay hatred face concerted opposition. The European Commission must now take concrete, positive steps to move forward with tangible measures such as the Anti-Discrimination Directive and the recognition of civil status partnerships to prove once and for all that intolerance and violence will not be accepted in the EU and should be opposed in other countries.”
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England and a member of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament commented:
“Last weeks’ IDAHOBIT day celebrations demonstrate how important it is that LGBT people can freely express their sexuality without fear. I’m appalled by the actions of some EU countries that are seeking to make such expression a criminal offence, but I take heart from the fact that the European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to condemn these actions and has vowed to take further action to protect the right to freedom of expression.”