Statement: Freedom of movement in Europe still a challenge for LGBT-persons

The freedom of movement within the EU is a cornerstone the European co-operation that’s has given our countries and our citizens great advantages. Therefore, this right must be defended and also extended so that it truly becomes a freedom of movement for all EU citizens. Today that is not the case. The lack of recognition for LGBT-persons and the discrimination that still exists deprives LGBT-persons of their right to freedom of movement.

LGBT-persons and various rainbow families are not respected and protected in all EU member states. There are members who deny recognising same sex marriage or civil partnerships entered in other countries. Member state who don not give LGBT-persons the same possibilities to protection from discrimination or the possibility to form or be recognised as a family leading to problems with everyday life areas such as housing, health care and childcare. These are real problems that it is necessary to address. And address firmly to create better possibilities for all EU citizens and to combat discrimination all over the EU.

The European Court has issued a ruling clarifying that all EU countries must respect marriages of same-sex couples from another EU country. The Court in its ruling points out that part of the citizenship of the Union is a right to normal family life and that this applies even when the spouses are of the same sex. It is a ruling of great significance that, when applied fully, will resolve some of the problems faced by LGBT-persons and rainbow families as they exercise their right to freedom of movement by moving across borders in the EU.

This does not mean, which is of the greatest importance to underline, that we believe that the European Union should strive to introduce European marriage legislation. Family law is a member state competence and should so remain.

We do not want to see European compromises on issues where the differences are so vast between countries as with Malta where you must wait four years for a divorce or Slovenia where there is no lower age limit to enter marriage and a number of other countries with more liberal laws on divorce or more protective laws on marriage. Our aim is to tackle the problems faced by LGBT-persons and rainbow families as an issue of anti-discrimination. And the EU has the competence to take a stand and address this in such a way that the freedom of movement within the EU can function much more flawless also for LGBT-persons and rainbow families.

A survey conducted by the EU Human Rights Authority found that 47 percent of LGBT-persons in the EU felt discriminated against or harassed at some point in the last 12 months. 67 percent of pupils and students who identify as LGBT always or often hide their sexual orientation or gender identity in order to avoid harassment. Only three percent of all respondents to the survey say it is common to see same-sex couples holding hands in public. The corresponding figure for different sexes is 75 percent. Another study shows that hate and anger directed at people because of their sexual orientation is the third most common form of hate in the EU. All these factors make life much more complicated for LGBT-persons and rainbow families and tackling the discrimination is of importance. To ensure a fully functioning right to freedom of movement is a good and valid start