The Europe of phobias

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  • Europe has initiated sanctions on member states that do not defend LGTBI rights.
    Europe has initiated sanctions on member states that do not defend LGTBI rights. Source: IdemTV.

European policies are moving forward to defend the rights of LGBTI people while some member states are failing to meet their commitments and criminalise these groups.

While the rights of LGBTI people are being advances, important setbacks are also witnessed. In recent years we have explained how, even within the EU, recognition and criminalization co-inhabit. Hungary and Poland are the countries leading the crusade against LGBTI persons in Europe and the European Commission started sanction proceedings against these two states last July.

LGBTI-phobic and anti-LGBTI laws…are a reality in Europe under the leadership of Hungary, followed closely by Poland. Europe is at a stage where the rise in attacks on the LGBTI community and increased violence of such attacks, as well as a growing number of political and civil organisations with a clear ultraconservative ideology are emerging and gaining access to financial resources.

Sanctions were called for by ILGA Europe, which denounced the similarities between the Hungarian and Polish anti-LGBTI laws and Russian laws, calling out a clear violation of the “EU principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Treaties, as well as at least two EU Directives”. With the proceedings, EU member states must be coherent with the commitments of the Union and, more specifically, with the 2020-2025 LGBTIQ Equality Strategy.

According to a EU survey in 2019, 76% of EU citizens believed that LGBTI people should have equal rights to heterosexuals, while four years before, this figure was 71%. In this lapse of time, the perceived situations of discrimination have risen among LGBTI people. And in this context, the EU decided to deploy its Equality strategy to tackle discrimination, push for equal rights and ensure security.

ILGA Europe documented cases of discrimination in its Rainbow Europe Map, as can be read in this article, where a strong regression of rights was noted, especially in Hungary. ILGA Europe and local organisation’s complaints against these two countries to the Commission are not new. Hungary and Poland systematically push clearly discriminatory legislation and breach Human Rights.

Steps forward are being taken, nevertheless. Last September, the European Parliament adopted a resolution demanding recognition for same-sex couples, to ensure the rights of families and freedom of movement. The resolution was approved by 387 votes in favour, 161 against and 123 abstentions. The resolution was a clear example of the Parliament’s concern over the regression in LGBTI rights, especially in Hungary and Poland.

In this sense, the resolution calls for economic fines, and the suspension of EU funds for both these countries, and calls for measures to be adopted against Romania for not complying with the judgement from the European Court of Justice from 2018 which recognises the status of spouse for LGBTI couples, as do several EU directives.

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