LGBT rights need to be respected – the European Commission tells the potential EU member states

On 14 October 2009, the European Commission published its 2009 Progress Reports on the countries which applied for the EU membership – Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.

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The Reports highlight the progress these countries made towards the EU integration, as well as challenges they face. ILGA-Europe is pleased to see prominent references to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people’s rights in the Reports.

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LGBT issues are covered in all reports and stronger language is used by the Commission when referring to the human rights violations of LGBT people and to the non-compliance of the states to their human rights obligations under European/Accession partnerships. It is also positive to notice that the reports give specific recommendations to the states to introduce anti-discrimination laws and policies that are in line with the EU requirements. The Reports also emphasise the need to level up ‘the protection against discrimination in practice’ in the countries where the laws were adopted (Croatia, Serbia). In particular, the Commission has criticised the governments for failing to provide adequate protection to Belgrade Pride participants which led to cancellation of the event, and for the violation of freedom of expression and association in the infamous case of Lambda Istanbul in Turkey.

ILGA-Europe provided written contributions to the progress reports to the Commission in May 2009. In June 2009 we also facilitated the participation of 5 activists from Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in consultations with the European Commission on Progress Reports.

Lilit Poghosyan, ILGA-Europe’s Programmes & Policy Officer, who leads ILGA-Europe’s work on the Western Balkans and Turkey, said:

“The Commission’s progress reports are one of the most important tools at hand for the EU in influencing the human rights situation in candidate and potential candidate countries. The gradually wider and more self-evident inclusion of LGBT human rights in the Commission’s monitoring system and in the Progress Reports shows that LGBT rights are recognised within the European Union and that it is expected and demanded of the future members that they comply with the European values.

We welcome the way in which the human rights of LGBT people are raised in this year’s progress reports and encourage the Commission to continue asserting the principles of non-discrimination and equality in accession negotiations with the countries.’’

ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & intersex people in Europe:

The reports can be found at:

References to LGBT rights in specific countries are summarised in the attached document: References to LGBT rights in the European Commission’s Progress Reports 2009.

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