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EU should act on homophobic human rights threats – Ludford

January 19, 2011 11:04 PM

The European Parliament has called in a resolution for the European Commission to examine and challenge proposed legislation in Lithuania which would criminalise with fines the 'promotion' of homosexuality. MEPs have long followed developments in this Baltic country which joined the EU in 2004; it lags way behind in the narrow intolerance of its discourse on sexual orientation, despite having to implement EU anti-discrimination laws.

Sarah Ludford, vice-chair of LGBT Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman, London MEP, and an active member of the European Parliament lesbian & gay rights intergroup, spoke in the debate. She said:

"Coming from the UK, I was able to warn from experience of the dangers of a 'ban on gay promotion' law, since of course we had the infamous Section 28. But I was also able to offer hope of changed attitudes, as has happened in the Conservative party leadership."

"A law which bans 'promotion' of homosexuality could collide head-on with EU law on equal employment rights. On the wider human rights front, it would inhibit proper sex and citizenship education, have a chilling effect on free speech in the media, arts, and political activity and be a pretext to ban gay pride marches."

"The European Commission must not wait for this legislation to come into force. It must consider infringement proceedings for prospective breaches of job rights and send warnings about breach of EU/European Convention on Human Rights free speech obligations."

"People and politicians are entitled to their own opinions on homosexuality, as confirmed by the recent UK court judgement finding the owners of the Chymorvah Hotel in Penzance breached the law when they banned a gay couple. But that freedom of thought must not be translated into discrimination, hate crime or silencing of protest."