Leading Lib Dems sign international pledge for gay rights
Top Liberal Democrats including Sarah Ludford MEP, Liz Lynne MEP, Chris Davies MEP and London Euro candidate Jonathan Fryer have added their names to an ILGA pledge on lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality ahead of the coming European elections.
The International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has prepared an online pledge for MEPs and euro candidates to sign ahead of the June 4th European elections. It calls for the promotion of equality and combating discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford, the party's European justice & human right spokeswoman, is a prominent member of the European Parliament's gay and lesbian rights intergroup. She said: "I'm delighted to sign this pledge and give my strong support to ILGA's campaign for these key issues of fundamental rights. In my 10 years as an MEP I have actively supported equal rights for members of the LGBT community on matters such as free movement and recognition of civil partnerships, tackling hate crime, and asylum rights for individuals who risk persecution because of their sexual orientation. I have contributed to making the European Liberal (ALDE) group in the Parliament the key group in terms of progress on these issues and look forward to continuing that."
Leading Liberal Democrat euro candidate for London Jonathan Fryer added: "A lot of progress has been made on LGBT rights over the past five years, in Britain and in most, but not all, EU member states. It is important that the European Parliament works, across party lines, to ensure full and equal rights for LGBT people within all 27 EU countries and presses for significant improvements beyond the EU's borders. As far as I am concerned, the mutual respect for people's sexuality is a core contemporary European value and an essential part of comprehensive human rights."
West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne commented in signing the pledge, "As the Vice- President of the European parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee I have worked for many years on the need for Europe-wide anti-discrimination legislation to ensure that lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people are treated as equals no matter where they are in Europe.
In 2006 I drafted a report for my committee on the need for new anti- discrimination legislation on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion or belief, age and disability in access to goods and services. This year I also drafted the committee's report on the legislation proposed by the European Commission that aimed to cover this area.
I am truly delighted that we are now, after so many years, so close to finally making this Europe wide legislation a reality and I pledge to continue to work to ensure that equality for all people no matter what their sexual orientation."
ILGA-Europe's 2009 European Election Pledge summarises the key issues that we want to see advanced at the EU level over the next five years. These are:
1. Adopting ambitious EU legislation on equal treatment
I pledge to continue to support and to actively work towards the adoption of an EU multi-ground anti-discrimination directive as an essential step in ending the hierarchy of rights.
2. Ensuring the right to free movement in the EU for LGBT people
I pledge to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are able to exercise their right to free movement in the EU with their families, including by closely monitoring the implementation of the Freedom of Movement Directive and by supporting measures to increase mutual recognition of partnerships.
3. Increasing explicit recognition of transgender people's rights
I pledge to call for explicit recognition of the rights of transgender people in EU law, including by ensuring adequate coverage of transgender people in future EU gender equality legislation and policy and by closely monitoring implementation of the Gender Equality Directives with regard to their coverage of transgender people.
4. Combating homophobia and transphobia through criminal law
I pledge to call for a Framework Decision on homophobic and transphobic violence, hate crime and hate speech following the recommendation issued in the legal study on homophobia of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency.
5. Promoting an inclusive definition of family
I pledge to promote a definition of family which recognises the diversity of family relationships, and to ensure that the needs of LGBT families are increasingly reflected in EU policy and legislation (e.g. the Parental Leave Directive).
6. Acting as the EU's fundamental rights watchdog, including on LGBT rights
I pledge to hold EU Member States accountable to their human rights commitments and to be a voice against human rights violations targeting LGBT people in the EU (e.g. freedom of assembly, asylum of people at risk of persecution).
7. Protecting LGBT rights in Europe beyond the EU
I pledge to promote the human rights of LGBT people within the European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU Central Asia indicative programmes and Enlargement through political dialogue and recommending adoption of inclusive anti-discrimination laws.
8. Protecting LGBT rights in the world
I pledge to support Parliament resolutions and actions condemning human rights violations against LGBT people outside the EU and calling for the end of criminalisation of homosexuality.
9. Calling for an explicit commitment to fundamental rights from the new EU Commission
I pledge to prioritise the commitment to fundamental rights and equality in the approval of the new European Commission and to call for an explicit expression of this commitment by all the members of the EU Commission.
10. Ongoing commitment to the EU agenda in the area of non-discrimination and equality
I pledge to support programmes that ensure continued EU funding for effective and necessary action to combat discrimination and promote equality on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.