As the European Parliament’s legislative term comes to an end today, ILGA-Europe thanks our MEP allies that have worked tirelessly over the last five years alongside us to ensure the advancement of human rights of all LGBTI people. Here is a reflection on all that it has achieved over the last five years, while looking forward to what can be done in the coming term.
What has been achieved since 2014…
Since 2014, we have been working consistently with 150 MEPs across six political groups that make up the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights to bring real change for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons across all 28 Member States in the EU.
2015 saw the adoption of The EU strategy for equality between women and men post 2015 in which the report called on the Commission to “to ensure that Member States enable the full legal recognition of a person’s preferred gender, including change of first name, social security number and other gender indicators on identity documents.”
It also saw the resolution on empowering girls through education in the EU, where Member States were encouraged to work with the Commission in fighting LGBTI phobia in their education systems, suggesting that “objective information on LGBTI issues” be included in school curricula.
2016 saw the adoption of a report on The situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU recognising the discrimination and abuse risks faced by LGBTI asylum seekers in the Commission’s list of “safe” countries, thus acknowledging the right to asylum in such circumstances.
Last year, a report was adopted on upholding the rights of minorities in the EU including LGBTI persons, highlighting that their cross-border rights should be monitored and communicated. The Commission was also urged to ensure the implementation of the Free Movement Directive, and to ensure the right of free movement for LGBTI people and their families.
Also in 2018, the Parliament condemned for the first time LGBTI conversion therapy in the EU, calling for a stand against the pathologisation of trans identities and medically unnecessary surgeries performed on intersex children. In addition, it called for for legal gender recognition to be free from the requirement of forced sterilisation and surgery.
The beginning of 2019 welcomed two key LGBTI resolutions in one session. February 14 saw a historical adoption called for a clear standard for the protection of intersex people’s bodily integrity and human rights.
In the same session, a resolution on the future of the LGBTI List of Actions for the European Commission’s next term from 2019-2024 was passed, uniting the European Parliament with 19 member states, who in December signed a call initiated by the Maltese government calling for such a strategy.
The next steps for LGBTI equality
ILGA-Europe’s first move to ensure we continue the European Parliament’s future leaders firmly commit to supporting and advancing the human rights of LGBTI people lies in our current campaign. We are asking candidates to stand up in the face of an increasingly polarised social and political climate, and sign our pledge committing to this future work. That work involves:
Enacting an LGBTI Strategy
The Commission must follow through on the LGBTI List of Actions adopted this year, while also building on its first commitment in 2015 to work on LGBTI rights in the EU. These two foundations offer the tools to develop a comprehensive LGBTI strategy in consultation with the Parliament and civil society.
Non-Discrimination and Hate Crime
Anti-discrimination legislation for protecting LGBTI people currently only exists in the area of employment at EU level, with no minimum standards for LGBT people in other areas, and no protections for intersex people. LGBTI people are also not included in framework protections regarding hate crime. Future leaders can raise these issues, ask that they be addressed and ensure that EU institutions work with Member States in adopting follow up legislation at national and European levels.
Freedom of Movement
Last year’s judgement by the Court of Justice of the EU on the case of Coman and Others v. Romania determined that all Member States must provide same-sex couples with the same freedom of movement rights as different-sex couples. The reality is not the case across the EU, thus the European Parliament and Commission needs to ensure this ruling becomes properly implemented. Work to ensure freedom of movement for same-sex parents and their children is another key area, where full cross-border recognition of documents and family status is yet to be secured.
Following on this year’s Intersex Resolution, the Parliament has a role to play in ensuring that Member States and the European Commission step up to urgently meet a clear agenda on instituting a legal ban on intersex genital mutilation at both national and EU levels, as well as clear monitoring, prosecution, and redress mechanisms. The EU will also have a duty to increase availability and accessibility of funding for intersex-led groups and organisations.
The World Health Organization is phasing out the psychopathologisation of gender identity via its release of the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11). The European Parliament can play a role in ensuring that trans identities are not treated as mental illnesses by adopting and implementing ICD-11 criteria across all Member States. The future European Parliament can also work towards a Resolution encouraging Member States to remove the requirement of a mental health diagnosis for accessing transition-related healthcare and legal gender recognition, in favour of a legislative framework based on self-determination.
Asylum and Migration
LGBTI people are among the most vulnerable groups within the European asylum system. Reform of the Common European Asylum System is ongoing, and offers more comprehensive minimum standards of protection for asylum seekers on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. The future Parliament’s leaders can ensure the reform is both quickly adopted and effectively implemented.
Visible and organised forces in Europe and globally are curtailing human rights, especially with regard to LGBTI rights, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as highlighted by the European Parliament Resolution adopted in February 2019. The intensely hostile and violent climate these forces perpetrate have a real impact on the work of human rights defenders and LGBTI organisations, as well as on the day-to-day lives of LGBTI people. Future MEPs must respond to this backlash against human rights and promotion of anti-equality ideology that undermines key EU values.