Viviane Reding comments on LGBT rights in Vilnius debate with citizens

Submitted by Lithuanian Gay League

On Friday 13 December, Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding was in Vilnius to debate about Europe’s way out of the economic crisis, citizens’ rights, etc. When asked about discrimination and homosexuals’ rights, politician declared that the European Union is fighting with discrimination, but the question of family and adoption has to be solved by Lithuania itself.

Romas Zabarauskas, a young openly gay filmmaker was asking for help and inspiration fighting for LGBT rights protection and reminded V. Reding that the participant of debate Mayor of Vilnius City Arturas Zuokas was not willing to give permission for the “Baltic Pride 2013”.

“First of all there are the general principles and values in the treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. And one of those values is the non-discrimination of human beings. So whatever your nationally is, whatever colour of your skin is, whatever your religion or sexual preference is, you must not be discriminated. And this is one of the basic principles. And it does not count if you are a minority or majority. Minorities also have a right to express their differences. Now there is a second element in the treaties which is very important and that is a freedom of assembly. That means you have a freedom, according to the laws, to make a demonstration, to have a parade, etc. But of course, you have to clear that with the authorities of the place where you want to have this demonstration. But the authorities cannot say that you don’t have a right to have this demonstration, this parade. There are also other questions, which are very important, for instance free movement of homosexual couples. Even if you have a member states which do not recognize the marriage of two men or two women, this member state has to allow a couple which has been married, for instance in France, under the French law, in. The marriage laws are national competences. And in Lithuania you decide what the laws on marriage are. Europe cannot intervene into this. This is the principle of subsidiarity. But on the question how a family is defined, it stays with the responsibility of a state.”- explained European Commissioner.

Another question was asked by Mr. Trumpa. He wanted to know is V. Reding believes that discrimination based on sexual orientation will be successfully eliminated from the EU by 2020. Some new EU member states want to forbid same sex marriages and a right for adoption. Mr. Trumpa was curious if EU is willing to carry on with such a discriminatory policy.

According to V. Reding, The European Law and our European Constitution, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, foresees very clearly that there can’t be any discrimination on any basis. These anti-discrimination laws have to be implemented at national level. In addition, the family law and the laws on marriage, it is a member state who decides ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to have permission for the same sex marriages to take place. We have different states in Europe which have done that. My member state, for instance, will now implement same sex marriages and also a right to adopt a child. You may know that in France there were huge discussions with hundreds of thousands of people in the streets ‘for’ or ‘against’ and it has made a really strong debate. It other member states it is out of question to do something like this. So this freedom stays with a member state, family law is not a European law and we would need a very deep change of the treaties in order to have family law into the treaties. I do not believe that so quickly family law will become European law.

Watch the full debate here.

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