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Time for EU to bash gay-haters and racists

June 15, 2006 12:08 PM

Speaking ahead of a European Parliament debate on racist and homophobic violence, Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP is calling on the EU to match its achievements on workplace equality with tough measures to punish those responsible for violent hate crimes.

She commented, "We have a huge and inexcusable gap in EU action. For tackling discrimination against employees and consumers there are good laws and a new strategy. But as hate speech, incitement and violence against black and gay people explodes in a climate of impunity or even official encouragement in some Member States, the EU stands impotently by."

"Astonishingly, David Cameron is happy to ally with Poland's ruling Law and Justice party that has banned gay pride events, dismissed an official for distributing European teaching material on tolerance and invited into the coalition the League of Polish Families which called for 'deviants' to be 'beaten with batons'."

"Racist violence is also clearly on the rise in Europe, such as the recent murder of a black nurse in Antwerp and an increase in anti-semitic and Islamophobic crimes. Last month Michael Schudrich, Poland's chief rabbi, was attacked in Warsaw during Pope Benedict's visit."

"Where is the EU protest and action to end all this? EU governments must stop their shameful dithering and make racial, religious, homophobic and gender hate crimes punishable with tough sanctions throughout Europe. It is a disgrace that they sit back while many Europeans live in fear of life and limb.

Other homophobic developments in Europe include threats against the gay Dutch ambassador to Estonia and violent attacks on marchers in Romania's "Gayfest". Oscar Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland said after his experience of anti-gay aggression in Moscow: 'you can't fight this with reason, you are dealing with people whose only mans of communication is violence.'

President Lech Kaczynski apologised to Mr Schudrich after he was punched in the chest and doused with pepper spray by a man who shouted the old anti-semitic slogan "Poland for Poles". The chief rabbi warned that the presence of the League of Polish Families in the government encouraged such incidents. "When you let an extreme rightist, xenophobic party into the coalition it empowers the ultranationalists."