Lawmakers urge EU to fight homophobia

2014-02-04 21:14
Gay rights activists take part in a protest held by an NGO against the Russian government's crackdown on civil society near the EU headquarters in Brussels. (Georges Gobet, AFP)

Gay rights activists take part in a protest held by an NGO against the Russian government's crackdown on civil society near the EU headquarters in Brussels. (Georges Gobet, AFP)

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Strasbourg - European lawmakers on Tuesday backed a call for the EU to fight homophobia and protect the rights of sexual minorities as fears rise of growing intolerance in many countries in the bloc.

"Homophobia must not be tolerated in Europe anymore", said Greens MEP Ulrike Lunacek, who steered the resolution through the assembly.

"So many of us lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people have lived our lives in fear for too long. Fear of holding hands on the street, fear of being called names, fear of being thrown out of our houses, schools or jobs", Lunacek said.

"My report says the EU must act on this, so that we, too, may enjoy the rights guaranteed to all in the EU", she added.

Upcoming elections

The non-binding resolution was passed by 394 votes to 176 against, with 72 abstentions.

The relative closeness of the vote sparked some sharp exchanges, with many French lawmakers attacked for failing to back the resolution because they were afraid of doing so ahead of European elections in May.

Supporters said the upcoming polls made it even more important to send a message to the public now.

"This is the best possible time to adopt this report", liberal MEP Sophia Veld told a press conference.

Lunacek had received some 40 000 emails against the resolution, she said.

The resolution called on the EU to "draw up a roadmap to protect the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people".

This would be similar to "existing EU strategies against discrimination based on sex, disability or ethnicity", it said.

The issue has been a source of concern for some time, especially in newer EU states in Eastern Europe, but a marked turn to the right across the bloc has raised fears a growing intolerance will find expression in the May elections.

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