In an opinion adopted by the plenary session today, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) welcomes the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy but warns that we are at the same time experiencing regression in respect of EU values, with some authorities continuously using anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric and even adopting discriminatory policies and legislation. The assembly of EU’s regions and cities argues that European funds should not be granted to governments promoting structural discrimination mechanisms against LGBTIQ people and suggests providing more financial support to equality and diversity programmes at local level.

The first EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy presented by the European Commission expressly calls on the CoR to promote dialogue with local and regional authorities and civil society, including the social partners, to advance LGBTIQ equality. Citing the case of Budapest as an example, the CoR opinion points out that cities and regions can take the lead in combatting discrimination and setting LGBTIQ friendly policies in cases where national governments are lagging.

Rapporteur Kate Feeney (IE/Renew Europe), Member of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, said: “The EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy is a long awaited step in the right direction, in order to build a Europe truly respectful of fundamental rights. Regional and local councillors and mayors interact daily with their citizens and as such can play a key role in guaranteeing the inclusion of everyone and making change happen from below. Whether it is by addressing the multiple discrimination facing the LGBTIQ community or by answering their needs through existing and new polices, cities and regions can actively contribute to better promotion of equality and initiatives reflecting diversity.”

The rapporteur regrets that the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 7 October failed to reach an agreement on the new EU strategy on the rights of the child , due to some Member States’ opposition to a reference to the rights of LGBTIQ youth and children.

“LGBTIQ youth in Europe is particularly vulnerable to discrimination, victimisation, stigmatisation and abuse. All children must be able to develop their personality freely and be protected from conversion therapies and forced medical interventions. We highlight that the role of universal sex education is important in fighting stereotypes and discrimination, in building a positive image of members of the LGBTIQ community and in fostering an atmosphere of acceptance”, Ms Feeney said.

The opinion calls on the European Commission to ensure that European funds are not granted where structural discrimination mechanisms exist. Instead, there is need to provide financial support to LGBTIQ civil society organisations and to equality and diversity programmes in municipalities and regions where the LGBTIQ community face particularly hostile attitudes from governments. Local and regional authorities should also be fully involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of the national plans on LGBTIQ equality.

MEP Pierre Karleskind (FR/Renew Europe), who initiated the European Parliament’s resolution declaring the entire EU a LGBTIQ Freedom Zone, also joined the debate at the plenary session. He underlined that cities and regions have a crucial role in making the equality of rights a reality at local level. In line with the European Parliament’s plea, the CoR sends a call to all municipalities to declare themselves “LGBTIQ freedom cities”. It also co-signs the request made by the Parliament in its Resolution on LGBTIQ rights in the EU with regards to rainbow families and same-sex couples, calling for a rigorous application of cross-border family law and intensified dialogue.

Contact:

Lauri Ouvinen

Tel. +32 473536887

[email protected]

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