LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

ILGA-Europe welcome election of first woman EU Commission President

Ursula VON DER LEYEN is elected President of the EC

ILGA-Europe congratulate Ursula von der Leyen on being the first woman ever elected president of the European Commission – a historic step forward for gender equality in Europe.

(Photo credit: European Union 2019 - Source : EP)

As ILGA-Europe, we welcome the strong commitment made by the President-elect in front of the European Parliament on 16 July on ensuring respect of the rule of law across the EU. Given the increasingly polarised social and political climate both across the EU and globally, human rights – in particular the human rights of LGBTI people – are facing a forceful challenge, and a strong positive response to this is indeed much needed. It is therefore encouraging to hear President-elect von der Leyen stating so clearly that there can be no compromise on the rule of law which applies to all EU Member States, and that she will not only ensure that the EU Commission fully uses its existing toolbox to ensure rule of law is upheld within the EU, but also establish an additional rule of law mechanism.

The rule of law is central to functioning democracy. Without it, everyone – in particular the most marginalised in society – suffers the consequences of restrictions on freedom of speech and of assembly, constraints on media and academic freedom, election interference, the normalisation of hate speech and hate crimes, and political and corporate corruption” said Evelyne Paradis, the Executive Director of ILGA-Europe.

ILGA-Europe also welcome President-elect von der Leyen’s commitment to close the legislative gaps that remain to ensure equal protection against discrimination across the EU for all grounds of discrimination – an important priority in today’s Europe, where discrimination and inequality continue to be widespread. We were also pleased to hear her commit before the European Parliament to taking concrete steps to tackle violence against women and to improve the situation of refugees, as well as to adopting concrete plans to address the climate crisis and to create a fairer and more equal Union.  

As part of the EU Commission’s commitments to human rights and fundamental rights, ILGA-Europe look forward to working with President-elect von der Leyen to ensure that concrete and specific commitments are made by the next EU Commission on advancing LGBTI equality. At a time when we observe rollback on gains made on LGBTI equality in the EU, it is crucial for the EU Commission to take more action, not less. This is why ILGA-Europe are calling for the next Commission to adopt a strong and comprehensive EU strategy to advance human rights and equality for LGBTI people for the next five years, a call supported by the European Parliament and 19 EU Member States.

ILGA-Europe are encouraged by the agenda that President-elect von der Leyen has set out for her term as President of the European Commission 2019-2024. We stand as ever ready to engage with the President and her Commission in working towards meeting these ambitious and progressive goals, and ensuring that the human rights of LGBTI people are reflected, protected, and supported throughout.

We look forward to working with this Commission to ensure the protection and advancement across the EU of fundamental rights in general and the human rights of LGBTI people in particular, for equality and inclusion both within and beyond the EU,” Paradis added.