“Everyone should feel free to be who they are, without fear or persecution & rdquor ;, warns the Vice President of Values and Transparency of the European Commission, Vera Jourová. This Thursday, together with the equality commissioner Helena Dalli, has presented the first strategy of the European Union to boost the equality among LGBTIQ groups (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, transvestite, intersex and queer) which proposes expanding the list of European crimes to also cover homophobic discourse. According to Brussels, “it is imperative that Member States react quickly & rdquor; to reverse an increasingly worrying trend. “This is not about ideology, about being men or women, but about love. This strategy is not against anyone. It is about guaranteeing security and non-discrimination,” insists Jourová.
The social acceptance of these groups has increased in recent years and has gone from 71% in 2015 to 76% in 2019. Currently, 21 of the 27 Member States – among them Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland or Malta– They legally recognize same-gender couples, while four countries – Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta – have introduced gender recognition procedures without medical requirements into their legislation. However, discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual characteristics continues to grow at the same time.
According to European Agency for Fundamental RightsIn 2012, 37% of the LGBT community felt discriminated against. In 2019 that percentage had risen to 43%. “For many LGBTIQ people in the EU it is still not safe to show their affection in public, to show their sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual characteristics, whether at home or at work, or to simply be themselves without feeling threatened and an important number of people are also at risk of poverty and social exclusion & rdquor ;, points out the European Commission which sees particularly “worrying & rdquor; the increasingly frequent trend of incidents and attacks against this group through the creation of “Zones free of LGBTIQ ideology & rdquor; and bullying at festivals. A situation that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Measures on four fronts
To reverse the situation and guarantee equality, Brussels proposes to act on four fronts. First, it proposes to strengthen the legal framework against discrimination of this group and one of the first areas in their sights will be employment. The European Commission will examine whether Member States rigorously apply the Employment Equality Directive and, if necessary, present legislative proposals in 2022. It will also propose a new specific regulatory framework to address the risks of discrimination inherent in artificial intelligence systems, a plan for action on social economy that addresses discrimination against marginalized groups, including LGBTIQ, and will support projects to combat inequality in education, health, culture and sports. “If we find gaps we will act”, warns Jourová.
The second great pillar will be guarantee the safety of the collective. Although the EU has legislation criminalizing hate crime and incitement to hatred based on racism and xenophobia, the same protection does not exist in the case of speech against the LGBTIQ collective. Brussels will try to resolve this gap with a plan to expand the list that will arrive in 2021. In addition, it will strengthen measures to combat messages against these groups on the internet in the new digital law that the Commission will present in a few weeks as well as in the review of the directive on audiovisual media services and the action plan on democracy.
The third major area of action will aim to protect the cross-border rights of families made up of gays, lesbians and other people from these groups. “If you are a father in one country, you are a father in each and every one of the countries & rdquor ;, warns the Commission that it will present in 2022 a legislative initiative to support the mutual recognition of paternity in the event of recognition in a Member State. It will also explore the possibility of supporting the mutual recognition of same-gender and legally registered partners in cross-border cases as well as the recognition of transsexuals.
“There are many countries that have changed the legislation & rdquor; but “other requirements apply & rdquor; that they could be disproportionate and “violate human rights standards & rdquor ;, admits the Commission announcing the launch of an intersectoral dialogue to promote awareness. Finally, the strategy is committed to making the EU the standard bearer worldwide, including the commitment to reinforce the rights of this group in their international relations.