- New EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy will push Europe to defend and protect rights at a time of backlash.
The European Union has published a five year strategy, pledging to take a bigger role in making Europe and the World more LGBT+ inclusive.
It notes its own research shows 43% of LGBT people felt discrimination in 2019, compared to 37% in 2012.
And it promises to tackle discrimination, ensure LGBT+ safety, build inclusive societies and lead the call for equality around the world.
The European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova and Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli jointly revealed ‘Union of Equality: LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025’ today.
Dalli promises it will ‘leave no-one behind’.
The strategy warns ‘discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics is actually increasing in the EU’.
But it says Europe ‘has to be at the forefront of efforts to better protect LGBTIQ people’s rights’.
The strategy vows LGBT+ rights will become mainstream in EU policy.
Meanwhile the European Commission promises to review freedom of movement rules to help rainbow families maintain the same rights as they travel and work across Europe.
And it will extend the list of ‘EU crimes’ to cover hate crime and hate speech targeted at LGBTIQ people.
It will also help LGBT+ asylum seekers, ensuring those who assess them are better trained. And it will work with partners around the world to advance LGBT+ rights.
Moreover, the commission has clearly noted Poland’s ‘LGBT Free Zones’ and Hungary’s plan to block trans people from changing legal gender. The strategy sets out to toughen up action against EU members that attack the community.
The EU will help member states end ‘conversion therapies’ as well as genital mutilation of intersex children and stop countries from forcing trans people to have surgery before recognizing their identity.
‘A new approach to rights and equality’
Leading LGBT+ organization ILGA-Europe said the strategy ‘marks the beginning of a new approach in the European Commission to LGBTI rights and equality’.
Katrin Hugendubel, ILGA-Europe’s advocacy director, said:
‘For the first time, the strategy sets out a clear work programme for a wide range of services in the European Commission in relation to LGBTI rights.’
She noted the strategy notes what the commission can do directly – because it has the legal powers – like proposing new freedom of movement rules to help rainbow families.
Meanwhile it will also help member states make changes on a national level – like banning ‘conversion therapy’.
Hugendubel added: ‘‘With its understanding that LGBTI rights are not niche issues but touch on all areas of life, the strategy clearly acknowledges the structural discrimination and marginalisation of LGBTI people.’
Moreover, the strategy notes that all EU bodies, politicians and departments have a role to play – working with civil scoiety.
Evelyne Paradis, executive director at ILGA-Europe added:
‘At the very core of this strategy is the understanding that if you are going to bring about profound change, it needs to be everyone’s business.’
‘Essential’ to EU does not fund hate by rogue member states
The influential LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament also welcomed the new strategy.
Co-chair Marc Angel MEP said:
‘The inclusiveness of our societies is crucial. Too many LGBTIQ persons still feel excluded and devoid of recognition and protection.’
The intergroup will support the commission’s plans to make family’s freedom of movement better across Europe.
But, referring to errant countries such as Poland, Angel added:
‘The monitoring of how EU funds are used is essential. We have seen only too well how some member states use EU funds without respecting EU values.’
Likewise co-chair Terry Reintke MEP said the intergroup will support plans to extend the EU’s list of crimes to protect against LGBT+ hate crimes.
And he said: ‘The LGBTI Intergroup has long pushed for this strategy to be adopted and we strongly welcome the commitment of Commissioner Dalli in representing the wide diversity of the LGBTIQ community.’