Beyond the European Elections – what happens next?

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2014 National LGBT Conference
31 July 2014

Conference notes that in May 2014, 28 European Union (EU) member states elected 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to represent their interests across Europe. These representatives have a 5 year term to advance policies and, for us, promote a Europe that celebrates its diverse members whilst condemning hate crime and inequality. Of the 73 UK MEPs, 22 signed the joint ILGA-Europe/European Network Against Racism pledge for a campaign free from discrimination and intolerance.

During 2014-2019, the European Parliament will play a central role in shaping EU policy on tackling discrimination; hate speech and hate crime; free movement; the rights of transgender people; health; and EU foreign policy. ILGA-Europe continues to promote its ‘Come Out Pledge’, which summarises key lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues they want advanced at EU level. Transgender Europe (TGEU) continues to raise the profile of transgender equality.

The progression of far-right parties or parties propagating xenophobic and racist ideas – there are now 80 MEPs from these parties – threatens the core European values of human rights and equality.

It is therefore essential to ensure that MEPs establish strong intergroups to continue to advance fundamental rights for LGBTI people, as well as a comprehensive anti-racist agenda, and to jointly react to manifestations of racism and hate.

Although the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) made great strides in the European elections, Labour and the Greens – both traditional allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality – made some significant gains on the Tories and Liberal-Democrats. Across Europe, the far right did not make the expected gains, for example Geert Wilders’ party did worse than predicted. Further good news is that France’s Marine Le Pen has not managed to form an intergroup of far right allies due to not meeting the requisite number of countries and representatives. This may change, but for now far right groups are divided.

Many want to see Europe broken up. Years of recession, soaring unemployment, and lacklustre leadership have left the public with little faith that the elite can solve their problems. However we must not forget the EU’s contribution to LGBT equality, anti-racist legislation and women’s rights in particular. We must help influence policy by engaging with the MEPs elected as our representatives.

Conference therefore urges the national LGBT committee, working with Labour Link and LGBT Labour, to:

1. Continue to signpost regional and branch LGBT groups to join ILGA and support ILGA-Europe’s latest campaigns, including the continuing Come Out campaign;

2. Publicise and promote TGEU resources and campaigns;

3. Encourage regions to run training on how to engage with MEPs;

4. Use our LGBT communication channels to impress on members the importance of engaging with your MEP, including asking them to sign the Come Out pledge.