EU executive launches action to protect, support LGBTIQ people

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission launched on Thursday a strategy for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, bisexual, transgender, intersex or questioning (LGBTIQ) people in the 27-nation European Union as some countries step up anti-LGBT rhetoric.

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The Commission proposed tackling discrimination against LGBT people, in particular when it comes to employment and ensuring their safety, also from online hate speech by including homophobic hate crime and hate speech in a list of Eurocrimes.

The EU executive also wants respect for LGBT rights across EU borders to make sure that different legislation in EU countries does not mean a child in a LGBT family ceases legally to be part of that family once it crosses a border.

“Everyone should feel free to be who they are – without fear or persecution. This is what Europe is about and this is what we stand for,” said Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova.

“This first strategy at EU level will reinforce our joint efforts to ensure that everyone is treated equally,” she said.

Hungary proposed on Tuesday a constitutional amendment that children be raised with a Christian interpretation of gender roles, as the ruling nationalists turn to anti-LGBT rhetoric to shore up support.

On Wednesday Budapest also proposed draft legislation that would practically ban adoption by same-sex couples in what rights groups said was an attack on the LGBTQ community when COVID-19 meant they could not protest.

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, which faces elections in 2022, has increasingly turned to anti-LGBT rhetoric as the pandemic hit the economy, following the example of the ruling nationalist PiS party in Poland.

During the Polish presidential campaign earlier this year, homophobia and anti-LGBT rhetoric were the centrepiece of the PiS’ and incumbent president’s campaign.

According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights 43% of LGBT people last year declared that they felt discriminated against compared to 37% in 2012, even though EU acceptance of LGBT people is growing, the Commission said.

Last year 76% of EU citizens said lesbian, gay, and bisexual people should have equal rights to heterosexual people, the Commission said, compared to 71% in 2015.

“It’s 2020 and hate and discrimination of people from sexual minorities really does not belong to Europe,” Jurova said.

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