The European Commission’s Progress Reports 2011 on countries aiming to join the European Union
On 12 October 2011, the European Commission issued its annual Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports on EU accession and pre-accession countries. The 2011 Enlargement Package includes Progress Reports on Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244/1999), Turkey and Iceland. In addition, the Commission published its Opinion on Serbia's application for membership of the EU which contains a more detailed Analytical Report on the progress made by Serbia towards European integration.
ILGA-Europe is generally satisfied with the way most reports cover the human rights issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people. The European Commission rightly criticizes the governments of Turkey and FYR of Macedonia for omitting sexual orientation ground from the list of protected grounds in their national anti-discrimination legislation and reiterates that those laws do not comply with the EU acquis.
The Progress Reports also recommend that all Western Balkan countries who enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination laws (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo) take measures to raise public awareness on the scope of those legislations and on the remedies they provide.
The Commission complements Montenegro and Serbia on the progress made in the field of anti-discrimination policies but at the same time it highlights that more should be done to address discrimination cases in both countries. The Commission also mentions about the continuous discrimination, intimidation and violence faced by LGBT people in all Western Balkans countries and in Turkey.
However, ILGA-Europe regrets to note that the Analytical Report on Serbia does not contain sufficient references to the discrimination and violence faced by LGBT people. Furthermore, the Commission did not recognise in the report that the cancellation of Belgrade Pride 2011 was a clear failure of the government of Serbia to guarantee the constitutional right of LGBT people to freedom of assembly.
ILGA-Europe believes that the banning of the 2011 Pride in the face of threats of violence from extremist groups is a grave setback for the cause of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Serbia. We therefore respectfully request from the Directorate General Enlargement of the European Commission and from the EU delegation in Serbia to raise in next year’s report and in their on-going political dialogue with Serbia the problem of discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people and to call on Serbian authorities to take all necessary measures to safeguard the right for freedom of assembly for LGBT people.
ILGA-Europe also encourages the European Commission to continue monitoring and including assessment of respect of the human rights of LGBT people in its annual Progress Reports as well as asserting that fundamental rights are for all and should be protected in reference to LGBT people.