Liberals launch new European network for LGBT rights

Giles Goodall at ALDELast weekend, over a thousand European liberals met in London for the annual ALDE congress, hosted by the Lib Dems and opened by Nick Clegg. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – the European family of liberal parties – became the first to adopt their joint manifesto for next May’s elections to the European Parliament.

But a second historic event took place at the congress: the launch of a new European liberal campaign for LGBT rights: Liberals for Equality. LGBT rights are human rights, and for me as a Lib Dem, they’re a defining liberal characteristic. Liberals were in government in five of the eight EU countries to have introduced equal marriage so far, and the next most likely to do so – Luxembourg – will soon be led by a (gay) liberal Prime Minister.

We as liberals need to play a leading role in promoting equality. We need to push the agenda forward and to campaign strongly, consistently and loudly for equality – all over Europe. Sunday’s referendum in Croatia, where a vocal minority succeeded in passing a ban on same-sex marriage, is just the latest evidence of how much work we still have ahead.

The Liberals for Equality network will bring together campaigners from Europe’s liberal parties to promote equality and combat homophobia across Europe. We will work together with ministers, parliamentarians and activists, through our parties, and across borders. Our objectives are to campaign, educate, stimulate debate, and provide support to liberal equality campaigners.

Europe is a diverse place and every country’s situation is unique, especially concerning LGBT rights. That’s why the network will provide a tailor-made approach, per country, in the quest for equal rights. I was very pleased to welcome the support of a series of inspiring European liberal campaigners at our launch event: Birgitta Ohlsson (Sweden’s EU Affairs Minister), Lousewies van der Laan (Vice-President of the European Liberals), Tamara Van Ark (Member of the Dutch Parliament) and Remigijus Šimašius (Deputy Leader of Lithuania’s Liberal Movement).

As a Lib Dem, I’m especially proud that it was London that hosted this first LGBT network event. LGBT+ Lib Dems and the Lib Dem International Office have been instrumental in organising our ALDE Congress event, supported by Adrian Trett (Chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems) and Baroness Liz Barker, among others.

As a candidate in next year’s European Parliament elections, I want to make equality issues a priority. Europe has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights and I want this to continue in the future. By joining forces, liberals will continue to fight for equality right across Europe. If you’re interested in getting involved in the new network, please get in touch!

* Giles Goodall is a Lib Dem European Parliamentary Candidate for South East England.

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  • An excellent, most welcome development that if anything feels overdue. My very best wishes to all involved.

    I do hope Liberals For Equality, as an LGBT group, will campaign on biphobia and transphobia as well as homophobia. There are too many LGBT-in-name organisations focused on the front half of the acronym already!

  • Giles Goodall 4th Dec '13 - 3:35pm

    Jen: Thanks for your support. We certainly intend to include the whole spectrum. If you’d like to get directly involved, please do get in touch – we will depend on getting everyone together to make this work!

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