European Parliament starts work on EU-wide action plan for LGBT rights

European Union FlagThis week the European Parliament released a study on a potential EU ‘roadmap’ for the way ahead on LGBT equality across the 28 member states. Such an EU action plan would draw together new laws and policies to strengthen equality and non-discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the EU. The research was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

It comes after the European Parliament’s repeated calls for the European Commission to produce a roadmap. Roadmaps are policy documents that summarise and plan EU action on a given topic over several years. Similar documents include an EU Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015; the European Disability Strategy; or the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament, commented: “I welcome this new study, which will help us draw the skeleton of what the LGBT Roadmap should include.”

“The European Parliament has asked the Commission to come up with a Roadmap for equality for LGBT people regularly since January last year. Such a policy would cost very little if anything, and ensure the EU delivers on its promise of equality and anti-discrimination.”

The European Parliament is now awaiting the results of a survey by the Fundamental Rights Agency on the situation of LGBT people in the EU and Croatia, due in the first half of 2013.

Denmark passes same-sex marriage

The Danish parliament has voted through same-sex marriage with the new law coming into effect in just a week on June 15th. The change passed overwhelmingly by 85 votes to 24.

Manu Sareen, minister for equality in the Danish coalition government said, “It’s liberalism, it’s diversity, it’s equality, it’s tolerance and it’s so beautiful.”

The law will apply to both civic and religious marriage, though no church or priest will be obliged to conduct same-sex weddings.

The UK’s consultation on same-sex marriage closes in a week’s time.

Europe stands up for same-sex families’ free movement

Romanian MEP Adina-Ioana Valean

Today the European Parliament adopted its annual report on EU citizenship, which this year highlights that same-sex couples and their families still face disproportionate obstacles when moving between countries inside the European Union.

In the EU Citizenship Report 2010: Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights, the European Parliament “reiterates its previous calls for Member States to ensure freedom of movement for all EU citizens and their families, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or nationality”.

Specifically, the Parliament reminds Member States that they must implement the rights granted under the Free Movement Directive, not only to married mixed-sex couples, but also to registered partners and same-sex spouses.

Currently, several Member States discriminate against same-sex couples who want to move or travel to their territory, despite the EU law asking that they be treated the same way as different-sex couples.

The Parliament further “calls on the Commission […] to ensure that the Directive is strictly applied”. The text had previously been deleted, but was reintroduced today by a majority of MEPs.

Adina-Ioana Vălean MEP, author of the report, commented: “My report makes clear what Parliament has known for over four years now: same-sex couples face serious obstacles to their free movement, which is a pillar of the European Union.

“If we are serious about the European project, the Commission needs to address this situation, as well as other obstacles faced by the citizens when exercising their rights, such as the portability of social benefits, recognition of diplomas and inheritance tax.”

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