May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and this year the EGP is coming together with the Federation of Young European Greens to remind gay, bisexual and transgendered people across Europe that the EU, European Greens and the Young Greens are behind them in the fight against prejudice and exclusion.
This week ILGA Europe (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) launched the first edition of the annual report on the state of gay rights across the continent, as well as a 'Rainbow Map' highlighting the record of each country in protecting those of minority sexual orientation and gender identification. Present at the launch was EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, who reminded the audience of the progress made in Europe whilst also warning of the potential for this progress to be threatened by the voices of intolerance that have made gains in Europe in the wake of the economic crisis. She reaffirmed the Commission and the EU's role in combatting homophobia and promoting tolerance in EU member states and especially in applicant countries and EU neighbours.
Considering the content of the report, EGP co-chair Monica Frassoni had this to say to mark the day:
"Today is a good opportunity to consider just how far we as a continent have come in the protection of an individual's right to choose the path of their own lives. The European Union has been instrumental, alongside other bodies such as the Council of Europe, in promoting and securing the rights of gay, bisexual and transgendered people to live as they please, free from discrimination in employment, access to justice and so many other areas. But the fight for full equality is far from complete, as this report shows. Even the more forward thinking countries often have much progress to make on areas of transgendered rights, and the level of progress is very uneven across the continent. The EU has a crucial role to play in reminding people and governments that equality is non-negotiable, and that gay, bisexual and transgendered people must be allowed the same rights and freedom from persecution as any other member of society."
The Federation of Young European Greens has launched their own campaign this year to highlight what they see as the rise in casual homophobia amongst young people. FYEG co-spokesperson Terry Reintke: "A lot of prejudices against gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people still exist, and "gay" is often used as a pejorative. FYEG strongly deplores homophobia and transphobia. We think that everybody should have the right to live out their sexuality and sexual and gender identity. It is crucial to stand up for the recognition of sexual minorities and their rights as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer."
FYEG thinks that the rights and responsibilities should be the same for all whatever their sexual orientation. Therefore education and information on sex, gender, sexual orientation and identity is needed to combat prejudices and stigmatisation. FYEG stresses that ensuring equality for LGBTQ people is in the interest of everyone.
The European Parliament is doing its part this year, by joining the hugely successful worldwide 'It Gets Better' project, which has seen politicians and celebrities (including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) from across the world record videos in support of LGBT youth. Over 50 EU politicians, including 8 Green MEPs, EP president Martin Schulz and Council President Herman Van Rompuy came together to pledge their support for the cause of making it better for LGBT people in Europe, young and old. You can watch the video on the page of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights in the EP at the link below.
In the words of Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, "homophobia has no place in Europe". We hope that you and your party can play your part in tackling it wherever you encounter it.
You can find the full ILGA Europe report here.