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Views on the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy

In November 2020, the EU Commission put forward the first ever comprehensive EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy. The strategy is a part of the EU Commissions priority to form a union of Equality.

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance welcomes the strategy as an important step for the EU in promoting LGBT+ rights and issues.

The new Union of Equality: LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 says

” Everybody in the European Union should be safe and free to be themselves. Our social, political, and economic strength comes from our unity in diversity: Equality and non-discrimination are core values and fundamental rights in the EU, enshrined in its Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Equal opportunities are also one of the key pillars of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The European Commission, the Parliament and the Council, together with Member States, all share a responsibility to protect fundamental rights and ensure equal treatment and equality for all.”

The strategy is from our point of view a good start for what should be a process to ensure a high quality of life for all LGBT+ persons and rainbow families in the EU and the EEA. The Commission shows that the EU takes LGBT+ issues seriously and that LGBT+ persons are important and should be equal with all other citizens in the EU and its member states. The strategy compiles many good views on equality and LGBT+ rights. However, the strategy lacks some issues that we as Christian-democrats, Conservatives or Liberal-conservatives would like to highlight. Two such issues are to put focus on rainbow children and the situation for elderly LGBT+ citizens. There are also existing EU directives about LGBT+ persons rights that member countries need to adhere to. We the European Centre Right LGBT+ Alliance call for the EU Commission and the other EU institutions to take into account the following points and develop the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy according to them:

  1. Ensuring the Core Values

To fulfil the intentions of the overall core values stated above (in italic) the EU should establish tools to act when member states implement legislation that infringes on the rights of LGBT+ persons. Such tools can be detention of financial support, quarantine, or exclusion from working groups on related subjects. The EU should also establish a set of positive tools to stimulate member states to reform legislation that still discriminates LGBT+ persons.

  1. Asylum

The strategy emphasises the importance of LGBT+ persons’ right to asylum throughout the EU. However, that possibility does not exist for LGBT+ people today due to antigay laws in some countries. As things stand today, the EU must ensure that LGBT+ people can seek asylum in a country that meets the requirements for LGBT+ people’s rights. We ask the Commission to take such actions.

This is something that needs to be addressed within the scope of a common EU asylum system. In such a system it is important to stress that although there is common ground among most of the member countries and most of the political groups in the European Parliament – not least the EPP – to seek policies that reduces the amount of asylum seekers to give priority to asylum seekers that are more vulnerable such as among them LGBT+ persons.

  1. Sanctions linked to the strategy

There should be financial sanctions for those countries that restrict the rights of LGBT+ people, not just when it comes to the issue of hate crimes. For example, sanctions should also be imposed in case countries conduct surgery on intersex infants and forced sterilisation of trans people, which the strategy itself names to illustrate the topic. This is important since this means to uphold basic human rights and to ensure anti-discrimination.

This should not be interpreted as a way for the EU to gain influence over the health care system as such in member countries.

  1. Rainbow families

A family in one member country needs to be recognised as a family also in all other member countries of the EU and the EEA area. Therefore, the EU needs to focus on mutual recognition between countries so that rainbow families can live, work, and move across Europe like other families. This is of even graver importance when it comes to the rights of children in rainbow families. A child is entitled to its family to the same degree no matter what country the child lives in. Rainbow families and especially children in rainbow families are still too often not in possession of their basic rights. This cannot go on and we call on the EU Commission to take necessary steps to prohibit all discrimination of rainbow families.

This without the EU compromising with the all-important principle of subsidiarity and on a federal level defines what families can and cannot look like. Family law as such should be a competence of the member states. We need to ensure that freedom of movement will function for rainbow families and that rainbow families are legal in all member countries based on mutual recognition and not just on federal EU-law.

  1. Elderly LGBT+ persons

The strategy lacks the perspective of elderly LGBT+ persons and does not address issues of importance to this group. This is an oversight, that we ask the EU Commission to remedy. The perspective and the challenges for elderly LGBT+ persons need to be incorporated into the strategy

Elderly LGBT+ persons run a risk of facing discrimination in different countries when it comes to access to health care, elderly care, and access to culture. They may also face challenges in expressing themselves in society due to the discrimination historically faced by LGBT+ persons in a time where being an LGBT+ person was regarded as a mental disorder or during which same-sex relations were banned and the possibilities of self-expression was very limited.

  1. Trans and Inter persons

Trans and inter persons are among the most vulnerable groups in our society. They risk facing harsh discrimination in daily life, inadequate access to healthcare in many EU-member states and legislation that limits the possibility and right to self-expression and self-identification.

With regard to trans persons the Commission should ensure implementation of the WHOs IDC 11 regarding the treatment of gender incongruence across the EU as well as encouraging member states to establish transparent trans care way points available according to needs.

With regard to inter and non-binary persons the Commission should also encourage member states to implement a third gender in their national legislation and secure mutual acknowledgement of a third gender to secure the EU freedom of movement within the inner market.

  1. Equality in practise

Apart from the Alliance welcoming the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy we also ask the EU Commission to make sure that the strategy is implemented and that actions will be taken. The LGBT+ community in the EU is not benefitted by mere word and statements. Therefore, it is important for the commission to clarify how the commission and other institutions plan to work with the strategy in practise.

How will they follow up the strategy and evaluate the results? Will the commission create plans for how countries can work for implementation and for equal rights? How does the Commission plan to address member countries that keep avoiding implementation of basic measures for anti-discrimination or ensuring equal rights, or even basic human rights for the LGBT+ community? These are all question that need to be addressed in the continued work with the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy.

The view of the European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance was developed by a working group consisting of representatives from all our nine different member organisations from eight different countries. The document was unanimously adopted by the board and by the Annual Meeting of the European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance in November 2021