Wednesday , 22 May 2019

EU: Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina must improve on LGBTI rights

EU FlagIn its annual reports on accession countries, the European Parliament said that Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania must improve on LGBTI rights.

Earlier this year, the Parliament already evaluated progress in Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and FYR Macedonia.

Accession country reports are seen as a litmus strong indications if the country would be allowed to join the European Union or further improvements are necessary before admission.

In its report on Turkey, parliament highlights its concerns with the backsliding on democratic norms, like the freedom of expression and the media. It urges Turkey to respect the rights of minorities and to include the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in a new Constitution.

Furthermore, the EU Parliament expressed its regrets that Turkey omitted protection for LGBTI people from its Hate Crimes Bill.

EU Accession States
EU Accession States

Hate Crimes against LGBTI people are a big problem in Turkey and too often remain unpunished, or sentences are reduced on account of the victim’s alleged “unjust provocation”.

Regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Parliament calls for a country-wide anti-discrimination strategy and for the inclusion of a clear definition of gender identity, sexual orientation in the country’s anti-discrimination law.

Furthermore, the parliament expressed its concerns over hate violence, hate speech targeting LGBTI persons, and accordingly calls on the Bosnian government to undertake awareness-raising actions on the rights of LGBTI people among the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the general public.

In its report on Albania, the European Parliament highlights the successful Tirana Pride, which was held without major incidents in June 2015. Albania, in contrast to the two other countries mentioned above, has been praised for improvement and legislation regarding LGBTI rights. Albania has the currently the most progressive legislation regarding LGBTI rights in the Balkans.

Nevertheless the EU said that Albania should further work on effective legislative and policy measures to reinforce the protection of human rights, minority rights and anti-discrimination policies.

Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, commented: “While truly positive developments are happening on LGBTI rights in the Western Balkans, hate speech and hate violence remain problematic and are in many cases not addressed.”

“Politicians should show more courage to condemn hatred and prevent abuse. It’s time for equal rights for all.”

Kati Piri MEP, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup and author of the Turkey report, added: “In line with a general decline of the rule of law in Turkey, respect for LGBTI rights are no exception. Last year we’ve seen the Istanbul Pride banned and an increase in political hate speech.”

“The Turkish government must seriously address this problem. Laws tackling discrimination, hate speech and hate crime against LGBTI people are necessary, and implementation even more! Equality cannot wait any longer!”

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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