The European Parliament have told five Balkan countries how they should improve gay and trans rights if they are to join the EU.
Members of the parliament (MEPs) recommended the EU looks at how LGBT rights are received in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Kosovo.
The MEPs have to vote on the reports on each country, to make them parliamentary resolutions. In the past, right-wing parliamentarians have asked to remove paragraphs on LGBT issues from the reports but this was the first time no such request was made.
In Croatia and Montenegro, where the governments have promised to work with the LGBT communities, the parliament recommended keeping track on homophobic attacks and acts of verbal discrimination.
Croatia, which will join the EU on 1 July, was asked to ensure freedom of expression for minorities, including LGBT people.
Montenegro was praised for working harder on sexual orientation and gender identity issues but problems over physical attacks were highlighted.
For Serbia, MEPs voiced concerns over recent bans of Belgrade Pride festivals and combating anti-gay speech. They want the countro to adopt ‘an action plan to increase knowledge and understanding of LGBT rights, combat homophobia and improve security’.
Concern still remains for Turkey’s proposed anti-discrimination law which still excludes gender identity and sexual orientation.
The ‘weak police and government responses’ to anti-gay violence in Kosovo is also a concern. MEPs recommend the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, including the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Kosovo.
‘Colleagues across the political spectrum are united in addressing our neighbours in South Eastern Europe, to tell them openness, diversity and equality are our shared European values,’ said Dennis de Jong, vice president of the EU’s LGBT Intergroup.
‘I remain worried that every year, pride events are the occasion of threats and physical violence.
‘We will keep making sure Members of the European Parliament go to as many pride events as possible to support thriving LGBT communities in the Western Balkans and Turkey.’
You can find all the information on gay rights in the Balkan countries on the Intergroup website.