On Tuesday the European Parliament voted for a report defining its input into the global future development policy. The report contains strong wording on LGBTI rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
In 2000 the UN adopted the Millennium Declaration, specifying concrete targets to be reached by 2015: the Millennium Development Goals. The report that was adopted yesterday, defines the Parliament’s priorities after 2015.
According to the European Parliament, development policy should pay particular attention to “the protection and respect of the rights of migrants and minorities, including LGBTI people and people living with HIV.” (par. 28)
Furthermore, the Parliament prioritises “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.” (par. 28, 58)
The report comes at a time of an increase in anti-LGBTI legislation, most recently in Gambia. UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation have warned that such laws worsen public health and hamper development, as it can deter some of those most at risk of infection, among them men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, from testing and treatment out of fear of being deemed a criminal.
Attempts by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), of which the Conservative and Ulster Unionists Parties are members, to delete paragraphs on sexual and reproductive health and rights, were defeated by a wide margin.
Nathan Gill UKIP Member of the European Parliament (MEP) voted against the report.
Alyn Smith, MEP for the Scottish National Party, and member of the European LGBTI Intergroup, and Trustee of LGBT Youth Scotland, told Kaleidoscot he was very pleased, stating: “Development policy and LGBTI awareness and rights should indeed go hand in hand. This report backs progressive and sensible policies that will go a long way to promoting equality in countries where progressive forces need all the help they can get.
“Anti-LGBTI legislation is on the increase, which only serves to deter people from being tested and, if necessary, treated, out of genuine fear of being branded a criminal.
“This is a human rights issue and I’m very proud of the Parliament for defeating attempts by right-wing elements to remove paragraphs on sexual and reproductive rights from the report.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup-designate on LGBTI rights, reacted: “Despite the shameful attempt by ECR to delete the paragraphs on sexual and reproductive health from this report, a solid majority spoke out to continue our fight for a development policy taking due account of SRHR and human rights.
“Only by guaranteeing universal access to health care, in a non-discriminatory way, we can be successful in our fight against HIV/AIDS. I am glad the Parliament spoke out for this.”
Elly Schlein MEP, shadow rapporteur on the report and Member of the Intergroup-designate on LGBTI Rights, reacted: “It is great to see this report passing by such a wide majority, including the vote on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“It sends a strong signal to the Commission and the Member States what the EU should negotiate for on the UN level: a development policy anchored in human rights.”