Human rights in the world: European Parliament zooms in on LGBT rights

Yesterday the European Parliament adopted its annual report on human rights in the world, paying close attention to EU action for the human rights of LGBT people. The report also comments on a range of new measures, including the creation of an EU Special Representative on Human Rights.

EU 2012

In recent years the European Union has taken several positive steps to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the world.

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The European Parliament takes stock of this progress, and suggests additional action in the coming year.

The European Parliament acknowledges that the EU has consistently stood up for LGBT people’s human rights at the United Nations, as well as occasionally in bilateral relations.

The Parliament calls on the Council to change the ‘LGBT toolkit’, adopted in 2010, into binding guidelines, and reasserts that the EU relationship to the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states entails non-discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, commented: “The European Union has done praiseworthy efforts for LGBT rights in the world. In particular, the toolkit adopted by the Council Working Party on Human Rights in 2010 has been used efficiently in a number of countries. The Council should now consider upgrading such a useful tool.”

Regarding gender identity, the European Parliament repeats its earlier call to the Commission to work with the World Health Organization to withdraw ‘gender identity disorder’ from the International Classification of Diseases, and seek a non-pathologising reclassification.

Finally, the Parliament also asks that people fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity be granted asylum, and that the Commission produces a comprehensive roadmap against homophobia and transphobia, including in the field of external relations.

Dennis de Jong MEP, Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Of course, the European Union can and should still do more. When it comes to LGBT rights at home, welcoming those who flee genuine persecution in Uganda, Iran or Indonesia is a duty of the EU. We must show international solidarity, and continue improving things at home in the meantime.”

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The report will be linked here once finalised by the European Parliament services. The LGBT-related paragraphs are:

108a. Commends the Council, the EEAS, the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States on their engagement in favour of LGBT people’s human rights in bilateral relations with third countries, in multilateral forums, and through the EIDHR; welcomes the reintroduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to this end; calls on the Commission to advocate the withdrawal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and to seek a non-pathologising reclassification; reasserts that the principle of non-discrimination, also embracing grounds of sex and sexual orientation, must not be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership; reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive roadmap against homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, also addressing human rights violations on these grounds in the world; calls on the Member States to grant asylum to people fleeing persecution in countries where LGBT people are criminalised, taking into consideration applicants’ well founded fears of persecution, and relying on their self-identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender;

108b. Welcomes the ‘toolkit’ adopted by the Council’s working party on human rights in 2010 with the aim of helping the EU institutions, the Member States, the delegations and other bodies to react swiftly when the human rights of LGBT people are violated; calls on the Commission to address the structural causes of such violations, and on the Council to work towards binding guidelines in this area.