In a landmark vote, the European Parliament has demanded to include LGBTI rights in a future EU gender equality strategy.
Despite pressure from right-wing organisations, the EU Strategy for Equality Between Women and Men Post 2015, known informally as the Noichl Report after its rapporteur Maria Noichl MEP, was passed by 341 votes to 281, with 81 abstentions.
The right parties of the EU, the European People’s Party (EPP) and European Conservative and Reformists Party (ECR), of which the UK Conservative Party is a member, attempted to delete all LGBTI content from the strategy.
The current strategy for equality between women and men runs out at the end of this year. The report voted yesterday, is the Parliament’s input for the gender equality strategy 2016-2020.
The EU parliament voted to:
- Asks to ensure the full legal recognition of a person’s preferred gender, which is vital for trans and intersex persons (par. 24) and to work towards full depathologisation of trans identities, including in childhood (par. 55);
- Demands an inclusive definition of families, including families with LGBT parents in labour and family law (par. 31);
- Calls on the Commission to tackle prejudice against LGBTI persons in schools (par. 61)
Furthermore, the EU Parliament reiterates its call to adopt a separate strategy on LGBTI rights. It also calls on the Council to adopt a Directive that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of inter alia sexual orientation, in education, social protection and access to goods and services (par. 2).
Alyn Smith, SNP MEP and member of the EU Intergroup on LGBTI Rights (ILGBTIR) told KaleidoScot: “Universal access to sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental human right, and I refuse to pander to the Right when talking about rape survivors being denied access to safe abortions, or when little girls are hauled away to experience the barbarism of female genital mutilation (FGM).
“In the true spirit of gender equality, it stresses the importance of flexible working to allow both men and women to balance work and family life.
“LGBTI rights are also covered via an inclusive definition of family, and transgender rights safeguarded. Member States should enable the full legal recognition of a person’s preferred gender on all security documents.
“Parliament has also voted to ratify the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. Countries ratifying the treaty are obligated to protect and support victims. They must also establish services such as hotlines, shelters, medical services, counselling and legal aid.
“All in all, this is a powerful move by the European Parliament, and I’m proud to have voted in favour.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of ILGBTIR, commented: “The message of the Parliament is clear: It is time for the Commission to take leadership on gender equality and LGBTI rights.”
“The attempt by EPP and ECR to delete all LGBTI content shows just how out of touch they have become with today’s society. Thankfully, the Parliament rejected their attempts, and voted in favour of the original report.”
All LGBTI content was threatened by an alternative resolution as well as numerous split and separate votes, demanded by the conservative and right-wing groups EPP and ECR.
Maria Noichl MEP, author of the report and Member of ILGBTIR, added: “Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia are still widespread in Europe, and there is a lot that the EU still needs to do to make equality a reality.”
“I am very glad that the Parliament affirmed its full commitment to gender equality and LGBTI rights. It is now up to the Commission to ensure that the final strategy reflects this progressive input.”
Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director, told KaleidoScot she welcomes the vote and it is now up to the EU Commission to act: “Seize the moment – that is my advice for the European Commission,” she said.
“The Commission has a fundamental responsibility to protect people against discrimination. Advancing equality has been at the heart of many good policies in the past. In 2015, the Commission has a great opportunity to show political leadership on gender equality and I would urge them to take it.”
“That fact that the Noichl report includes references to the rights of LGBTI people is warmly welcomed but should not distract from the continuing absence of a Europe-wide LGBTI strategy. The adoption of a strategy, tailored to the real needs of LGBTI people in Europe, is the only way to ensure coherence and protection.” continued Evelyne Paradis.