LibLink…Giles Goodall: LGBT rights in Europe – La vie en Rose?

South East region Euro candidate Giles Goodall has written an article for Pink News for the International Day against homophobia and transphobia looking at LGBT rights across Europe.

He makes the point that 7 EU countries already have equal marriage with 3 more likely plus Britain to do so. However, he makes the point that without the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition, it would be unlikely to happen here. He then points out that the reality of life for LGBT people is not always as rosy as the law would imply:

A major new survey by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, released to mark the International Day Against Homphobia and Transphobia, shows that discrimination against LGBT communities in Europe is far from dead. After asking almost 100,000 people all around the EU, the survey found that fear, isolation and discrimination are commonplace in Europe’s LGBT community.

Two out of three people reported hiding their sexuality when they were at school (68% in the UK), while 60% were bullied or called names. Discrimination at work is banned thanks to EU legislation, yet 20% of people still felt they had suffered in the workplace because they were LGBT (again the UK is close to the EU average with 19%). This clearly shows that greater efforts are still needed to make sure legal rights are properly enforced and that people know where to go for help if discriminated against.

Good news for the UK, though. We are apparently the best place to be LGBT in 2013 – although apparently that’s down to the specific LGBT hate crime provisions in Scotland.

EU expansion gives more and more people the protection from discrimination outlined in EU law, and across Europe, laws are changing for the better:

Proper protection against discrimination is a pre-condition for any new member to join the EU, as countries such as Serbia and Montenegro are well aware.

EU rules are also having positive effects in other areas of life, from the rights of same-sex couples from different EU countries to live together in Malta, to the reversal of homophobic broadcasting restrictions in Lithuania. New legislation to protect the rights of crime victims wherever they are in the EU, includes specific protection for people who were a victim because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

You can read the full article here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Stuart Mitchell 18th May '13 - 10:26am

    “He makes the point that 7 EU countries already have equal marriage with 3 more likely plus Britain to do so. However, he makes the point that without the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition, it would be unlikely to happen here.”

    That’s something of an insult to all the work done by Labour over the years on this issue. Homosexuality was decriminalised under Labour; section 28 was abolished and civil partnerships introduced by the last Labour government; and the current Parliamentary Labour Party is more in favour of equal marriage than Lib Dem MPs are. It’s as if Labour have baked a cake, then the Lib Dems have stuck a cherry on the top and want all the credit.

  • Stuart Mitchell 18th May '13 - 6:20pm

    Some nifty rewriting of history there, Dave.

    For instance: “Labour’s attempt to repeal [section 28] was rejected by their own peers”

    No it wasn’t. Labour’s first attempt to repeal section 28 in 200 was voted down by the Tories (and sundry bishops), who of course still had a majority in the Lords at that time, led by Baroness Young and egged on by Baroness Thatcher. A handful of Labour peers (15 to be exact) did vote against repeal, but this made no difference to the outcome of the vote – the government would have lost it anyway.

    To claim that Labour’s “own peers” rejected the repeal would be as accurate as me saying that Lib Dem MPs rejected the equal marriage bill, just because a small number of them did.

    If Labour’s civil partnerships bill was so inadequate, why did your spokesman in the Commons say “The Liberal Democrats are pleased to give the Bill a warm and unequivocal welcome”?

    I could go on, but the simple fact is that virtually every major advance in LGBT equality down the years has been brought about largely by the votes of Labour MPs, and the current equal marriage bill is no different. Failing to give credit where it’s due just comes over as partisan to a ridiculous degree.

  • Stuart Mitchell 18th May '13 - 6:21pm

    ” Labour’s first attempt to repeal section 28 in 200″

    I meant 2000 of course.

  • Stuart Mitchell 19th May '13 - 11:05am

    Dave, given that a higher proportion of Labour MPs voted for equal marriage than did Lib Dem MPs, it really is poor form for you to nit pick at Labour’s record on equality. Get your own house in order first. Until now, Lib Dems have only ever had to pontificate on these issues from the comfy position of being the second opposition party. It’s somewhat harder to get things done when in power and you are up against entrenched interests from institutions like the House of Lords and the military, as the story of the repeal of section 28 shows. Even with Labour’s huge majorities of 1997 and 2001, it took them six years to create enough Labour peers to be able to do it.

    Labour even had to use the Parliament Act to force through equalisation of the age of consent in 2000 – another achievement I wouldn’t expect you to give them any credit for. It was a very brave thing for Jack Straw to do at the time.

    When all these measures were brought in, Lib Dem MPs were happy to praise the government for doing so. Rewriting history now is just partisan opportunism.

    The story of LGBT equality has been one of evolutionary change. Equal marriage is only possible now because of the groundwork done by earlier governments – and every single major improvement was brought about by Labour MPs voting under a Labour government. Thirteen years ago, we had a situation where the Tory party was unanimously (led by William Hague) opposed to the repeal of section 28. Now many of those same Tories, including Hague, are in favour of gay marriage. There has been a massive transformation in society’s attitudes during this time and this would not have happened so quickly were it not for Labour’s leadership on things like age of consent equalisation and section 28. As for trying to give credit to the ECHR for some of the changes, it was of course a Labour government that gave British citizens the right to petition the ECHR in the first place!

  • Giles Goodall 22nd May '13 - 9:17am

    @Stuart: I don’t think you can doubt the fact that Lib Dems have set the pace on this issue, as Dave says, and that’s something of which we can be very proud. But there’s also no doubt that we have committed and visionary politicians from other parties (and none) to thank too. My own local MP, Nick Herbert, has done a great deal to sell this issue in the Tory party, and of course we’ve also had strong support from many Labour MPs.

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