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European Union Launches ‘LGBTIQ Equality Strategy’ To Challenge ‘Right-Wing Govts’
European Commission headquarters lit up in the colours of the rainbow flag to support International Day Against LGBT in Brussels, Belgium on May 16, 2020.
Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The European Union has announced its first “LGBTIQ Equality Strategy” to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, intersex, and queer people from discrimination as the leaders of some member states have recently been accused of pushing homophobic agendas.

Officials from the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, unveiled the proposals on Thursday in Brussels, Belgium.  They include adding “hate speech” to a list of “EU crimes” that reportedly also contains serious offenses like drug trafficking and terrorism, and ensuring recognition of same-sex parenthood throughout the 27 countries in the bloc.

“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.”

Still, Reuters described the new plan as “a challenge to right-wing governments in Poland and Hungary that have become increasingly homophobic in the past year.”

The commission’s multi-pronged approach focuses on discrimination, safety, “building inclusive societies,” and “leading the call for LGBTIQ equality around the world.”

“Family law is member states’ competence, we fully respect it,” Jourova said. “However, when applying national law, member states must respect their international human rights obligations and applicable EU law. Member states should also respect the fundamental values on which the Union is based, including equality and human rights.”

As Reuters reported:

The new strategy comes as right-wing governments in some former Communist eastern EU member states have made campaigning against gay rights a central part of their ruling ideology.

Ahead of the re-election earlier this year, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda campaigned against an “LGBT ideology” he branded more destructive than communism. He has pledged to ban the teaching of gay rights in schools.

This week, Hungary’s right-wing government proposed a constitutional amendment to require children to be brought up with a “Christian” interpretation of gender roles, and a law that would effectively ban adoptions by same-sex couples.

In July, the EU blocked funding to several Polish towns that had applied for financial support after declaring themselves “LGBT-free zones.”

European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli tweeted at the time, “Member States and state authorities must respect EU values and fundamental rights.”

“This is why six town-twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected,” she added.

According to The Associated Press, President Duda has cast the gay rights movement as a threat to Poland’s Roman Catholic values, while “the rise in hostility has left many Poles who identify as LGBTQ living in anger or fear, and some have emigrated.”

The EU Commission cited a survey that found 43% of LGBT people last year felt they had been discriminated against, a six percent increase from 2012.

“We are still a long way away from the full inclusion and acceptance that LGBTQI people deserve,” said Commissioner Dalli. “Together with the [EU] member states, I trust we can make Europe a better and safer place for all.”

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