“Everyone should feel free to be who they are, without fear or persecution,” warns the Vice President of Values and Transparency of the European Commission, Vera Jourová. This Thursday, together with the equality commissioner Helena Dalli, presented the first strategy of the European Union to promote equality among LGBTIQ groups (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, transvestite, intersex and queer) which proposes expanding the list of European crimes to also cover homophobic discourse. According to Brussels,
“it is imperative that Member States react quickly“to reverse an increasingly worrying trend.” This is not about ideology, about being men or women, but about love. This strategy does not work against anyone. It goes to guarantee security and non-discrimination, “insists Jourová.
The social acceptance of these groups has increased in recent years and has gone from 71% in 2015 to 76% in 2019. Currently, 21 of the 27 Member States – including Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland or Malta – legally recognize same-gender couples while four countries – Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta – have introduced marriage procedures into their legislation. gender recognition without medical requirements. However, discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual characteristics continues to grow at the same time.
According to European Agency for Fundamental Rights, in 2012 37% of the LGBT community felt discriminated against. In 2019 that percentage had risen to 43%. “For many LGBTIQ people in the EU it is still not safe to show their affection in public, to show their sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual characteristics, either at home or at work, or to simply be themselves without feeling threatened and an important number of people are also at risk of poverty and social exclusion, “says the European Commission, which sees the increasingly frequent trend of incidents and attacks against this group as particularly” worrying “through the creation of” zones free of LGBTIQ ideology “and bullying at festivals. A situation that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Measures on four fronts
To reverse the situation and guarantee equality, Brussels proposes to act on four fronts. First, proposes to strengthen the legal framework against discrimination against this group and one of the first areas in their sights will be employment. The European Commission will examine whether Member States rigorously apply the Employment Equality Directive and, if necessary, present legislative proposals in 2022. It will also propose a new specific regulatory framework to address the risks of discrimination inherent in artificial intelligence systems, an action plan on social economy that addresses discrimination against marginalized groups, including LGBTIQ and will support projects to combat inequality in education, health, culture and sports. “If we find gaps we will act”, warns Jourová.
The second great pillar will be guarantee the safety of the collective. Although the EU has legislation criminalizing hate crime and incitement to hatred based on racism and xenophobia, the same protection does not exist in the case of speech against the LGBTIQ collective. Brussels will try to resolve this gap with a plan to expand the list that will arrive in 2021. In addition, it will strengthen measures to combat messages against these groups on the internet in the new digital law that the Commission will present in a few weeks as well as in the review of the directive on audiovisual media services and the action plan on democracy.
The third great area of action will have as an objective to protect the cross-border rights of families made up of gays, lesbians and other people from these groups. “If one is a father in a country, he is a father in each and every one of the countries”, warns the Commission that it will present in 2022 a legislative initiative to support the mutual recognition of paternity in the event of recognition in a Member State. It will also explore the possibility of supporting mutual recognition of same-gender partners and legally registered partners in cross-border cases as well as the recognition of transsexuals.
“There are many countries that have changed the legislation” but “others apply requirements” that could be disproportionate and “violating human rights standards,” admits the Commission, announcing the launch of an intersectoral dialogue to promote awareness. Finally, the strategy is committed to making the EU the standard bearer at the world level, including the commitment to reinforce the rights of this group in its international relations.
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