EU highlights LGBT rights for candidate members
While the UK is still shuffling its way toward the door to leave the European Union after our increasingly controversial referendum, many countries on the edges of the EU are eager to join the social and trading bloc.
Yesterday the European Parliament adopted its annual reports on five candidate and potential candidate countries. The reports call on Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Albania to strengten their efforts to address discrimination, violence and hate speech directed at LGBTI people.
Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP (EFDD – the European group that includes UKIP),who is vice-president of the LGBTI Intergroup and shadow rapporteur for all five reports, commented: “The European Parliament is in line with its previous position: LGBTI rights are human rights, and are a key part of EU integration. Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Albania must not rest on the progress they made, but continue to ensure LGBTI rights are enshrined in law and implemented in practice”.
Reports on all five countries emphasise that LGBTI people are still vulnerable groups exposed to discrimination and violence.
The report on Northern Macedonia welcomes the recent establishment of an inter-party parliamentary group in LGBTI rights, but stresses the importance to target homophobic and transphobic hate speech, still prevalent in the country. It also stresses the need to grant access to healthcare for trans people.
The European Parliament report also urges Montenegro to “to launch public awareness-raising campaigns to fight discrimination and violence against LGBTI people, and to safeguard fair investigations and prosecutions in cases of crimes committed against them”.
“Hate crimes and hate speech towards LGBTI people continue to be widespread in the region. This is unacceptable and action needs to be taken,” said Hilde Vautmans, the ALDE (European Lib Dems) MEP and shadow rapporteur for the report on Kosovo and member of the LGBTI Intergroup. “It shows that legislative progress is not enough. We count on the governments of Nothern Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Albania to address these human rights violations as soon as possible.”