ILGA-Europe welcomes European Commission’s strong emphasis on LGBTI issues in accession progress reports

17/10/2013

ILGA-Europe’s statement regarding the European Commission’s 2013 Enlargement Strategy.

On 16 October 2013, the European Commission issued its annual Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports on EU accession and pre-accession countries.

ILGA-Europe welcomes the fact that the European Commission has put a strong emphasis on LGBTI issues in this year’s strategy committing to step up its political support and addressing consistently the human rights concerns of LGBTI people during the accession negotiations with the countries.

We are particularly pleased to see the Commission emphasizes the zero-tolerance approach to hate speech, violence and intimidation against LGBTI people and call for more robust measures to tackle violence and discrimination against LGBTI people as well as measures to counter stereotypes and misinformation.

Additionally, we welcome that the European Commission calls for anti-discrimination legislation to be extended to include sexual orientation and gender identity within its scope in Turkey and FYR Macedonia, the urgent need to protect freedom of assembly and association, particularly in Serbia, and the introduction of hate crime legislation in most countries.

Lilit Poghosyan, ILGA-Europe’s Senior Programmes and Policy Officer who oversees our work on EU Enlargement policy, said:

“We have provided input to the Enlargement strategy and progress reports advocating for increased political support for LGBTI issues and are happy to see the European Commission clearly articulating this commitment in this year’s Enlargement strategy.

We congratulate the Commission for emphasizing a zero tolerance approach to hate speech, violence and intimidation against LGBTI people and for urging accession countries to adopt more robust measures to tackle violence and discrimination. We are also happy to see the Commission stating that there is no space for religious and cultural relativisms in relation to the human rights of LGBTI people. To build on these strong commitments, we encourage the European Commission to further mainstream LGBTI issues in its other policy areas and provide more targeted support to LGBTI civil society, including through financial instruments such as the Civil Society Facility.”

Full text of the strategy:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2013/package/strategy_paper_2013_en.pdf

Country Progress Reports:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/countries/strategy-and-progress-report/index_en.htm

17 October 2013
Brussels

Extract from the European Commission’s Communication to the European Parliament and the Council Enlargement Strategy and main Challenges 2013-2014:

‘In this year’s Communication, the Commission lays particular emphasis on freedom of expression, the situation of the Roma, and the position of LGBTI persons.’

‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons

Homophobia, discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are still widespread phenomena in the Western Balkans and Turkey. This is partly due to incomplete legislative frameworks, but also to the inconsistent implementation of the legal provisions in place. Rights violations include discrimination in areas such as employment and education, failure of certain authorities to enforce freedom of speech and of assembly, hate speech, intimidation and physical violence, even murders.

In June 2013, the EU adopted guidelines for the promotion and protection of the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI people to provide guidance for the EU’s external actions in this field. A successful strategy in this field in the enlargement countries requires strong political commitment from governments, local authorities and law enforcement bodies concerned, as well as from the EU. The authorities in the enlargement countries can play a key role in bringing about a change in mind-set across society as a whole towards LGBTI persons, which is often at best ambivalent and at worst hostile.

There is an urgent need for anti-discrimination legislation to be extended to include sexual orientation and gender identity within its scope in Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Hate crime legislation still needs to be introduced in most countries. Training of law enforcement, ombudsman institutions, judges and media professionals is needed to raise awareness of new legislation, to ensure proper implementation and contribute to increasing understanding. Countries must pursue a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech, violence and intimidation and take steps as a matter of priority to address cases from the past and be prepared to react robustly to new cases in the future. Countries need to take measures to counter stereotypes and misinformation, including in the education system. Religious or cultural values cannot be invoked to justify any form of discrimination. Freedom of assembly and expression should be protected, including through appropriate handling of pride parades, including in Serbia, where regrettably this year's parade was banned for the third year in a row on security grounds.

To support work on the above challenges, the Commission will:

- Increase political support and visibility by inter alia ensuring these issues are systematically addressed in the appropriate fora with enlargement countries as well as in the accession negotiations, setting clearer policy priorities and improving monitoring and follow-up.

- Organise a high-level LGBTI conference in 2014 with the aim of taking stock of the state of play and progress achieved, sharing best-practice as well as adopting operational conclusions.

- Improve strategic cooperation with external stakeholders (international organisations and civil society).

In the period 2007-2013, over €2.5 million has been provided in specific support of LGBTI issues, both through IPA and EIDHR. Through IPA II, the Commission will better target funding including training of employees of relevant public institutions, including judges and police, and targeted campaigns and other initiatives (workshops, events) to raise awareness and increase tolerance.

The Commission will coordinate its assistance on these issues, notably with the Council of Europe and OSCE.’

Full text: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2013/package/strategy_paper_2013_en.pdf

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