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Euro-MP calls for EU action on hate crime

September 6, 2006 9:05 AM

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman and vice-chair of the European Parliament's Anti Racism and Diversity 'intergroup', is pushing EU ministers to stop stalling on measures to combat race, religious and homophobic hate crime.

The EU has made important achievements to tackle discrimination against women, gay, ethnic and religious minority and older people as employees and consumers. However, it has so far failed to match this with European-wide measures to punish those responsible for violent hate crimes.

Sarah Ludford has tabled a question to the Council of Ministers for an oral answer in the European Parliament's question time session on Wednesday. She said:

"Legislation to combat race and religious hate crime has been stuck in the Council for the last five years despite overwhelming support from the Parliament. Meanwhile, violence on the grounds of race and religion has continued to grow. Governments must stop stalling!"

"It is difficult to explain to my constituents why EU legislation can protect them from discrimination in the workplace, but offers no such protection if they are physically or verbally attacked because of their beliefs or the way they look."

"We also urgently need measures to combat homophobic hate crime, not least in view of what seems to be state-supported homophobia in countries like Latvia and Poland. The EU must not be impotent in the face of these threats to human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe."

Notes:

Sarah Ludford's question to the Council on the Framework Decision on race hate crime reads:

"Will the Finnish Presidency renew efforts to get agreement in the Council on a framework decision to combat race and religious hate crime as proposed by the Commission in 2001 and strongly backed by the Parliament? Will you encourage the Commission also to come forward with a measure to combat homophobic hate crime?"

In July authorities in the Latvian capital Riga refused permission for the annual 'Riga Pride 2006' march while participants in other events organised by the LGBT community suffered repeated physical and verbal abuse. As Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski (now Polish President) banned gay pride parades planned for the city in 2004 and 2005. Since he became president and his twin brother Jaroslaw prime minister, homophobic rhetoric from members of their Law and Justice Party and coalition allies has escalated.