I am honoured to approach you on the eve of the European Elections.
Let me start by saying that there are millions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons, young and old suffering harassment, violence, persecution and in some countries even risk a death penalty just because of their sexual orientation. They need everybody’s support – support of fellow citizens, support of NGOs, support of governments, businesses and politicians. It is only by taking active steps against discrimination and by offering support to each other, we can ensure that all forms of discrimination will be fought back and equality and respect for every individual’s rights will prevail.
Although in Europe we are in a relatively privileged situation in comparison to other parts of the world, we still must work hard on measures to strengthen the protection from discrimination. We have to complete anti-discrimination policies and laws at the EU level; we must make sure that no discrimination occurs in any of the Member States of the European Union.
The LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament, which I am a President of, is the key body coordinating and activating 785 Members of the European Parliament in Brussels. We are taking and encouraging our colleagues to take strong stands against discrimination of LGBT persons.
We call upon Member States to ensure free movement for same-sex couples, which is still not available and recognised by many EU countries; we call for granting protection and asylum to persons who have been persecuted and have been forced to flee their home countries because of their sexual orientation; we ask Member States to recognise same-sex partnerships and marriages; we travel and take part in Gay Prides in those Member States, where local politicians still are reluctant to respect that every citizen despite their sexual orientation, has a right to demonstrate.
Unfortunately and incredibly but some founding Member States of the EU, for example Italy is still lagging behind on LGBT rights. There is no law on civil partnership or same-sex marriage in this country. The Vatican is occupying media, institutions and repeatedly attacking the rights of LGBT people. Italian authorities can still deny someone a driving licence because of his or her sexual orientation.
Such discrimination must not continue in the European Union. Not in the old Member States, but not in the new Member States either, where situation is often even worse
There is still much to do on the European level to achieve and guarantee equality of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens wherever we live or travel to in Europe. We need strong anti-hate legislation penalising homophobia in the EU. We also need to guarantee freedom of movement for same-sex couples within the EU. And as the last point I would like to stress that we need to help LGBT citizens in the countries outside the EU, where situation for LGBT people are often very miserable.
Why is it important to vote in the EU elections? We can move on in the above mentioned areas only if we have a strong support on the EU level. Please vote for candidates who are active in fight against inequalities and are strong supporters for full respect of the human rights of LGBT citizens
Michael Cashman, President of the European Parliament´s Intergroup on LGBT rights
The French translation of this text can be found here.