Vice-President of European Parliament special statement for IDAHOT

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Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President of the European Parliament, reflects on the EP’s role in fighting Homophobia and Transphobia.
Ulrike is also member of the IDAHO Committee’s advisory board and a long time LGBT activist.
“Fighting homo-, lesbo- and transphobia from the European Parliament
 Today in Europe, the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are better respected than anywhere else in the world—thanks in great part to the European Union, and in particular to the European Parliament. Since the Treaty of Amsterdam enshrined non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the acquis communautaire in 1997, the fundamental rights of LGBTI people have become less of a political cleavage, and more of a consensus among all mainstream political groups. Today, we can safely affirm—as did 1st VP of the Commission Frans Timmermans in his parliamentary hearing—that homophobia has no place in Europe.
Legal improvements and political support have led to greater acceptance of and respect for LGBTI people. It also led to increased visibility, including in places where we would not directly expect it: Poland had an openly gay Member of Parliament, Robert Biedron, who was recently elected mayor. They also have an openly transgender MP, Anna Grodzka. In Latvia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs also had the courage to come out.
Yet, despite significant advances and increased visibility, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people still face prejudice and sometimes violence. In times of economic crises some also try to sideline human rights issues. We need broader, firmer and clearer political courage, which pushes EU leaders not only to issue occasional powerful statements, but to unwaveringly commit themselves to advancing the protection of LGBTI people in EU legislation and in an EU-wide strategy tackling homophobia.
In the European Parliament we continue to fight for the rights of LGBTI people. In February of 2014 a large majority of the Parliament voted in favor of a recommendation for a Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination of LGBTI people. In this ‘Lunacek’ report, that I authored, the Parliament asked the Commission to work together with Member States to develop a strategy to guarantee the human rights of LGBTI people throughout the Union, in all relevant areas, including employment, social affairs, health care, education, asylum; in the EU’s foreign relations; and also tackling hate speech and hate crime. Despite angering some who claimed this would create ‘special rights’ for LGBTI people, the report found widespread support.
The EU must become less timid, tackle homophobia head on, and ensure non-discrimination is strictly enforced. LGBTI people in the EU and outside must know they can rely on the EU to protect them and promote their rights.
As an openly lesbian politician myself I am proud to be Vice-President of this Parliament that represents 500 million Europeans, and condemns the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Europe and in the world. Let us work harder yet, so that next year we may look back, and see that Europe has progressed further down the path of universal human rights.”

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