The EU has unveiled its first ever plan to tackle LGBT+ discrimination following increasing calls for action over the rise of homophobic rhetoric in Poland.
The European Commission’s unprecedented five-year strategy details a number of targeted actions, including legal and funding measures, aimed at addressing the inequalities still faced by LGBT+ Europeans.×
It includes plans to extend the list of EU crimes to cover homophobic hate speech, ensure that LGBT+ concerns are better reflected in policy-making, and propose new laws to guarantee same-sex parenthood will be recognised across the 27 member nations.
“This is not about ideology. This is not about being men or women. This is about love,” said commission vice-president Vera Jourova. “This strategy is not against anyone. This does not put anyone on a pedestal. But it is about guaranteeing safety and non-discrimination for everyone.”
The commission said some progress is being made toward equality, but acknowledged a 2019 European Fundamental Rights survey that found 43 per cent of LGBT+ people still feel discriminated against, compared to 37 per cent in 2012.
Coronavirus lockdowns are thought to be worsening the situation by forcing some young people to remain in places where they might face violence, hostility and bullying or suffer anxiety or depression.
Although the strategy doesn’t specifically mention Poland, commissioner for equality Helena Dalli made clear that the country’s extreme anti-LGBT+ policies are in direct opposition to the EU’s “core values”.
“Today, the EU asserts itself, as the example to follow, in the fight for diversity and inclusion,” she declared in a statement on Thursday (12 November)
“Equality and non-discrimination are core values and fundamental rights in the European Union. This means that everybody in the European Union should feel safe and free without fear of discrimination or violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
“We are still a long way away from the full inclusion and acceptance that LGBTIQ people deserve,” she admitted.
Member countries that don’t have equality strategies were prompted to adopt one suited to the needs of their citizens, with the reminder that the commission will be monitoring their progress and reviewing the situation in 2023.