LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Disappointment as European Parliament adopts soft approach on homophobia in Poland

On 11 April 2007, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament discussed the issue of homophobia in Poland following a suggestion by Poland’s minister of education to restrict lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people’s entitlement to employment in schools and other education institutions.

Despite the calls from some Members of the European Parliament to initiate procedures provided by the EU treaty against those member states which do not comply with the Union’s principles, the Parliamentary Committee adopted a softer approach.

Discussion on Poland was initiated by two members of the European Parliament, Kathalijne Buitenweg and Sophie in ´t Veld. In their letter the MEPs requested to evaluate if the legislation proposed by the Poland’s minister of education would be in contradiction to European

Union anti-discrimination regulations and would effectively curbs the freedom of speech. Some Committee’s members from Poland defended thesis of ‘homosexual propaganda’ and its ‘detrimental’ effect on minors and undermined the importance of the debate on proposed legislation to limit LGBT people’s entitlement to equality in employment.

The LIBE Committee did not reach a consensus to condemn hate speech and to support a procedure provided by Article 6 of the EU Treaty which formally investigates if a member state is in breach of the EU principles. Instead the LIBE Committee suggested that the Fundamental Rights Agency should conduct a study on homophobia in Europe. At the same time the majority of political groups at the European Parliament agreed to ask the Commission and Council for a statement on homophobia in Europe and Poland during the plenary debates later this month.

Dr Christine Loudes, Policy Director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“We are disappointed by the lack of consensus in the LIBE Committee on condemning hate speech. Suggestion by the Polish minister of education to discriminate LGBT people in employment is not an isolated case of homophobia. Already for a couple of years we regularly receive information on homophobia and incitement to hatred against LGBT people which are occurring in Europe.

Just months ago the European Parliament adopted two resolutions strongly condemning homophobia. LIBE Committee’s soft approach and the lack of reaction from Commission and Council are sending a signal that homophobic speech and acts are acceptable in the EU. It highlights the current lack of protection of fundamental rights the EU.

We also need to stress that this is not an attack on Poland and Polish people, but rather an attempt to eradicate homophobia as one of expression of hate and prejudice which manifests itself too often”.

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.