In – Out: Why Europe Matters – LGBT Equality in Europe

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2013 National LGBT Conference
2 August 2013

Conference notes that in 2008, ILGA-Europe (The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association) and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) proposed a Horizontal Directive, banning discrimination in goods and services on grounds of age, disability, religion/belief and sexual orientation.

One of the many benefits of a single legislative approach is that it helps ensure grounds of discrimination are treated equally and multiple discrimination can be addressed. It underlines the human rights nature of tackling discrimination, providing the human rights framework to address potential conflicts of rights, avoiding any actual or perceived hierarchy of rights.

In 2013, five years since its launch by the European Commission, it has continued to receive cross-party support from the European Parliament. However, it also needs approval from the Council of Ministers – ministers from all European Union (EU) member states. It was supported by our previous Labour Government but now the Con-Dem government is ‘less inclined to support’ and could delay the process further. In times of economic hardship, minorities are under increasing attack and we need to do more to fight discrimination, not less.

Further evidence of the need for this Directive came with the May 2013 publication of the results of the first-ever comparative study by The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in EU members states plus Croatia. It found that almost one in two (47%) LGBT people felt discriminated against or harassed in the past twelve months. Unsurprisingly, lesbian (55%), young (57%) and poorer (52%) LGBT people are the most likely to be discriminated against, showing that discrimination and harassment are multiplied for people who tend to be marginalised. One in four (26%) respondents were attacked or threatened with violence because of who they were, including a staggering rise to one in three (35%) among transgender people.

The same month the FRA findings were published, a poll suggested Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is on course for further success in next year’s European Parliamentary elections. 27% of those certain to vote said they would support UKIP, with Labour on 23% and the Tories on 21%.

Conference recognises that political extremism is on the rise, fueled by a protracted economic crisis, record unemployment and social exclusion.

It urges the National LGBT Committee to:

1. Publicise the FRA LGBT survey results widely for use in local bargaining;

2. Draw up a fact sheet that myth-busts the anti European lobby;

3. Encourage members to challenge candidates in the European Parliament elections for their commitment to the Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive ;

4. Continue to signpost members to ILGA;

5. Encourage members to vote for equality in the May 2014 European elections.