LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Tajani on course for presidency – but does the end justify the means?

ILGA-Europe are extremely disappointed to see that the oft-cited need for a more open, equal and principled European Union appears to be taking a back seat to political games.

In the final hours before the European Parliament met in Strasbourg to elect a new president, the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) groups agreed to form a so-called “pro-European coalition”.

This deal has ensured that the EPP’s proposed candidate, Antonio Tajani, will receive the backing of both the EPP and a majority of ALDE in today’s elections for European Parliament President.

In advance of the 2014 European elections, Mr Tajani signed up to Novae Terrae’s pledge, which called for an EU Roadmap on rights of families – but only families defined restrictively as those based on unions between men and women. It also requested the EU to protect the right of parents to educate their children according to their “moral and religious” values.

In previous written questions, Mr Tajani has also expressed the view that children of same-sex couples would have “…serious psychological problems and experience major difficulties in being accepted as part of society”.

ILGA-Europe are particularly disappointed about the decision by ALDE members to support the EPP candidate. “At a time when people in Europe are losing trust in the institutions and there is a great need to work together to build a clear vision for Europe, one based on diversity, equality and social justice, it is highly problematic that political manoeuvring takes precedence over human rights considerations.” commented ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis.

ILGA-Europe have a long and valued history of collaborating with ALDE MEPs to advance the rights of LGBTI people at European level. In fact, ALDE members are known champions of equality and human rights and have been some of our strongest allies over the years. (The ALDE party website lists fundamental human rights among their core values.) But the decision to sign up to this joint agreement, made by a majority of their MEPs, ultimately means that ALDE are partly responsible for a man whose voting record on LGBTI equality (as well as women’s rights and fundamental rights in general) is less than stellar becoming Parliament President.

There is a difference between working “beyond ideological differences” for the common good, as mentioned in the EPP/ALDE agreement, and making arrangements which ultimately go against core values and fundamental rights. We need all MEPs to keep this in mind as they enter the next stages of voting.

ILGA-Europe will be in touch with both ALDE and the EPP to discuss how to reinstate the trust of LGBTI people all over Europe who look at the European Parliament as a firm defender of the principle of non-discrimination as enshrined in the EU treaties. We are very keen to continue working together in a constructive spirit – but this deal seems much removed from ALDE’s overall vision.