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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 43
European Parliament repeats call for new anti-discrimination directive
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European Parliament repeats call for new anti-discrimination directive

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The European Parliament declared twice in one week that it wants to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation across the European Union.

On October 25, it adopted a resolution saying that 'Member States should, as a priority, agree and adopt as soon as possible the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment.'

The proposed directive would forbid discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation in access to goods and services, education, and social benefits.

The resolution also 'calls on the [European] Commission to continue to support the overcoming of technical difficulties [between Member States] in order to ensure that a swift agreement is reached.'

Once passed by the European Parliament, the proposal still requires approval from all 27 E.U. Member States. Germany and others have refused any dialogue on the draft law, despite examining the proposals since July 2008.

On October 26, the European Parliament passed a further resolution calling on 'Member States to take the necessary steps to swiftly conclude agreement and adopt the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment.'

Such a directive would help Europe achieve employment and stability targets for 2020, the European Parliament said.

European Parliament member Raul Romeva i Rueda, rapporteur for the directive - in U.S. terms, its prime sponsor - and vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, welcomed the votes.

'These two votes show the European Parliament remains firmly committed to non-discrimination,' he said.

'We fought long and hard for this proposal, and we will outlast retrograde governments that use fallacious arguments to delay equality. It's in Europe's DNA to protect minorities, and we will eventually get there.'

European Parliament member Sophie in 't Veld, also a vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup and one of the authors of the proposed directive, called for stronger enforcement of fundamental human rights.

'Like the eurozone crisis, fundamental rights in the E.U. are weakened by huge national deficits and little enforcement of European rules,' she said.

'Just as we need stronger governance and sanctions for our economy, we need stronger governance and sanctions for fundamental rights. Member States must defend equality as urgently as the stability of the euro: both are absolutely vital.'

'The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights works by gathering members of the European Parliament from all political groups and countries, and advancing issues connected to the rights of LGBT people in the EU and beyond,' the group says on its website.

As a condition of membership, the E.U. requires that countries abolish laws against same-sex relations. The Treaty of Amsterdam, one of the governing documents of the E.U., also requires E.U. members to pass anti-discrimination legislation.

The new directive proposed by the European Parliament would standardize anti-discrimination laws throughout the E.U. and provide additional protections to LGBT residents in countries that have enacted only partial legal protections.

The proposed E.U. directive does not address relationship recognition, which varies widely among E.U. members.

To date, five E.U. members have legalized same-sex marriage - Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Eleven have established civil unions or registered partnerships, and eleven others do not recognize same-sex partnerships.

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