ILGA-Europe’s position regarding statements by two MEPs and media coverage of the “Different Families, Same Love” exhibition at European Parliament

19/12/2008

On 10 December 2008, International Human Rights Day, ILGA-Europe in cooperation with the European Parliament’s LGBT Rights Intergroup and Hélène Goudin, Member of the European Parliament, hosted an exhibition of 12 LGBT families images at the European Parliament entitled “Different Families, Same Love”. The 12 images highlight the challenges and issues LGBT families and their children face because of the lack of legal recognition, as well as the positive developments at European level advancing the legal situation for LGBT families and their children.

Prior to the exhibition Marios Matsakis, MEP, who received an invitation (as did all other MEPs) to attend the launch of the exhibition, stated that he was ”offended” by the images of LGBT families displayed on the invitation. After the launch of the exhibition unknown individuals attached ILGA-Europe’s posters by the entrance of Mr Matsakis’ office at the European Parliament and also pushed some posters underneath the door to his office. Mr Matsakis wrote a protest letter to the President of the European parliament and this story was reported in the Cyprus Mail.

Also Šarūnas Birutis, a Lithuanian MEP, issued disapproving statements regarding the exhibition. ILGA-Europe would like to state its position on the matter and reiterate the purpose of the exhibition.

ILGA-Europe wishes to dissociate itself from the irresponsible actions taken around Mr Matsakis’ office and to condemn such inappropriate behaviour.

The LGBT families exhibition has been created to raise awareness and draw attention to the legal and social problems LGBT families and their children experience in Europe.

The exhibition was displayed at the European Parliament on International Human Rights Day which marked the 60th anniversary since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Through the exhibition ILGA-Europe was addressing the hypocrisy of celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, year after year without addressing the fact that not all people enjoy equal human rights.

It is the opinion of the Fundamental Rights Agency:

“Rights and advantages reserved for married couples should be extended to unmarried same-sex couples either when these couples from a registered partnership in the absence of a possibility to marry, or when, in the absence of a registered partnership, the de facto relationship presents a sufficient degree of permanency in order to ensure equal treatment of LGBT person.” (2)

The “Different Families, Same Love” exhibition is intended to highlight just that.

ILGA-Europe regrets that these MEPs could not see the love and humanity shared by the families displayed in the exhibition and the message contained that human rights are for all. We hope that these events will give another opportunity to reflect on the indivisibility of human rights.

Ends

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:
(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org
(2) “Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU member States: Part I – Legal Analysis, p.157, http://fra.europa.eu/fra/material/pub/comparativestudy/FRA_hdgso_part1_en.pdf
(3) Attached are files containing the 12 images of LGBT families and captions associated with the images. Alternatively the images and the captions are available on ILGA-Europe’s facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1601438&id=638751225#/album.php?aid=19218&id=11494607341&op=6

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