Plenary summary: the EU as an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone, children’s rights, activities of the Ombudsperson and equal treatment in light of UNCRPD
12 March 2021
During its March I plenary session, the European Parliament Plenary debated and voted on several files that relate to the human rights of LGBTI persons:
- Resolution declaring the EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”;
- Resolution on children’s rights in view of the EU Strategy on the rights of the child;
- PETI report on the activities of the Ombudsman – annual report 2019;
- EMPL report on the implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD
On Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament debated the resolution declaring the EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”.
The resolution is an initiative by Intergroup Member Pierre Karleskind (Renew Europe, France), proposed for adoption two years after the first declaration in Swidnik county declaring it to be free of so-called “LGBT ideology”. Its text contextualises the situation for LGBTIQ persons in the EU and several Member States, pointing also at specific reports the Parliament has already adopted:
- whereas the backlash against LGBTIQ people is often coupled with a broader deterioration in the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights; whereas the European Parliament has expressed its deep concern in several resolutions on the deterioration in the rule of law in Poland, in particular with regard to the independence of the judiciary and the protection of fundamental rights; whereas no proper response has yet been given to Parliament’s initiative on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights to be governed by an interinstitutional agreement between Parliament, the Commission and the Council; (recital L)
- whereas Parliament has expressed its position in several of its resolutions on the situation of the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy in Poland, concluding that a systemic threat to the values of Article 2 TEU exists and that it constitutes a clear risk of a serious breach thereof; (recital M)
- whereas legal developments in Hungary have severely hindered the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people; whereas the adoption of Article 33 of the Omnibus Bill T/9934 de facto bans legal gender recognition for trans and intersex persons in Hungary, exposing them to discrimination and infringing their right to privacy; whereas in December 2020, the Hungarian Parliament adopted constitutional amendments which further restrict the rights of LGBTIQ people, neglect the existence of transgender and non-binary persons and restrict their right to family life, and a law that will strip non-married couples of the right to adoption; (recital U)
- whereas in January 2021, the Latvian Parliament began examining the constitutional amendment seeking to restrict the extension of the concept of family, as indicated in the ruling by the Constitutional Court, whereby the latter recognised the application of the Labour Law to different family models and obliged the legislator to ensure support and protection of same-sex couples; (recital V)
- whereas a bill to prohibit activities aimed at addressing gender identity theory in educational contexts was adopted by the Romanian Senate in June 2020; whereas the Romanian President refused to promulgate the law, asking instead for a constitutionality review; whereas the Romanian Constitutional Court declared in December 2020 that the law was incompatible with the Constitution; whereas this shows that effective checks and balances in Member States as regards the rule of law and democracy are crucial for the protection of LGBTIQ rights; (recital W)
- whereas being a parent in one Member State means that you are a parent in all Member States; whereas there are cases of children with two same-sex parents who are facing difficulties owing to the lack of legal provisions for the mutual recognition of a birth certificate with two same-sex parents; whereas a CJEU preliminary ruling referred by the Administrativen sad Sofia-grad (Bulgaria) in Case C-490/20 will decide on the case of a child with two lesbian mothers who faces statelessness due to this legal lacuna; whereas the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy envisages a legislative initiative to close this legal gap and a revision of the 2009 guidelines on free movement, both scheduled for 2022; whereas same-sex couples continue to face difficulties when exercising freedom of movement within the EU, but the Commission has nevertheless not proposed initiating legislation on the mutual recognition of relationships; (recital X)
Importantly, the resolution carries the following article: Hereby declares the European Union an ‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’;
Also on Wednesday, the Plenary debated the resolution on children’s rights in view of the EU Strategy on the rights of the child (Rapporteur: Juan Fernando López Aguilar, S&D).
- Calls on the Commission to ensure that the EU Strategy is consistent with priorities and legislative proposals laid out in the recent EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, the EU Roma strategic framework on equality, inclusion and participation, the EU Gender Strategy and the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025; (¶15)
- Calls for the EU, its agencies and the Member States to end childhood statelessness both within and outside the EU, including by improving the capacity of frontline officials to identify, record and respond appropriately to statelessness in the migration and asylum context, promoting and ensuring universal access to birth registration and certification regardless of the parents’ status, including for LGBTQI+ families, introducing, improving and implementing legal safeguards to prevent childhood statelessness (…); (¶23)
- Takes the view that the EU Strategy should mainstream and promote the rights of vulnerable children across all policy areas and adopt an intersectional approach that takes into consideration the multiple forms of discrimination suffered by, among others, children from racialised groups, children with disabilities, children without or at risk of losing parental care, children in institutional care, LGBTIQ children (…); (¶27)
On Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament adopted the report on the activities of the European Ombudsman – annual report 2019 (Rapporteure: Silvie Guillaume, S&D).
In particular, the report refers the following:
- Strongly welcomes the European Ombudsman’s strategic initiative on the leave rights of certain EU staff members and the best interests of the child; takes the position that the inconsistency of the European Parliament’s rules with those of the other institutions with regard to the leave rights of staff members who become parents through surrogacy, such as infertile, same-sex and single parents, ignores the primacy of the overriding best interests of the child and places such staff members at a significant risk of discrimination; recalls the conclusions of the Ombudsman regarding the importance of protecting the best interests of the child; calls for Parliament to engage in interinstitutional dialogue and to adopt a decision harmonising these rules with those of the Council and the Commission;(¶46)
Lastly, on Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament adopted the report on equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD (Rapporteure: Katrin Langensiepen, G-EFA).
The report specifically addressed LGBTI persons with disabilities and trans persons:
- Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address the existing gender, disability and ethnic pay gap, and in so doing to combat direct and indirect wage discrimination and the risk of in-work poverty for workers facing barriers at work and who are subject to multiple discrimination, especially LGBTI persons,women, Roma and refugees; awaits the Commission’s presentation of the announced legislation on pay transparency in the workplace in quarter one of 2021 to fight the pay gap faced by disadvantaged social groups, in particular PwD; (¶25)
- Stresses that protection of trans people against employment discrimination must be effective and calls on the Member States to combat this discrimination, especially in the area of employment; (¶26)
- Calls for the collection of EU-wide disability-related data with a human rights-based approach, including on employment and VET, disaggregated by gender, age, disability type, race/ethnic origin, sexual orientation, education level, etc., including PwD who have until now been left out of the statistics; calls for the collection of data related to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on PwD in order to put forward policies to prepare for future crises; (¶36)