LGBTI Rights and ARDI Intergroups ask President Ursula von der Leyen to keep equality at the centre of the post-COVID19 recovery response

Ursula von der LeyenPresident of the European Commission

Cc: Helena DalliCommissioner for Equality

Brussels, 21 April 2020 

Subject: Appeal to the European Commission to keep equality at the centre of the post-COVID19 recovery response

Honourable President of the European Commission,  

As the COVID-19 crisis extends, social injustice surfaces and individual and institutional manifestations of inequality and intolerance persist and, in some cases, worsen. Demonstrations of intolerance and hatred such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are on the rise and they further endanger and affect communities already at risk of social and economic exclusion. 

As actors in the fight against inequality have already shown, many individuals, institutions and organisations are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to fuel hatred towards LGBTI persons, migrants, people perceived as foreigners, Asians, Roma, people of African descent, Muslims and other groups. People of Asian descent have been victims of hate speech and crime in the street. Political parties are calling for refugees to be deported. Young and old LGBTI persons are finding themselves in hostile family situations more frequently due to the lock-down or may be forced to confinement with intolerant family members. Homeless persons are struggling further and may experience difficulties accessing health services or food; in addition, they cannot be confined if they have no personal space to be confined in. Roma communities might be disproportionately exposed to risks if sanitary aid and drinking water are not adequately ensured. Racial discrimination can increase if social stigmatisation is not addressed. All these happen while support networks, such as civil society organisations, are struggling to survive and to adapt to provide support services to the communities they serve.

The fundamental rights of all these persons are now threatened more than before the crisis due to the current circumstances. This can be seen both online and offline, where hate speech specifically targets these members of our societies. Now more than ever, Member States need to protect the fundamental rights of these people, both online and offline.

We welcome steps that the European Commission has taken to empower its equality and diversity agenda – messages of solidarity towards women in all their diversity, LGBTI persons, people of East-Asian, Romani, African and Middle Eastern descent, people who are undocumented, asylum seekers and others, as well as financial support and calls to the Member States for concrete actions.

These steps also echo unequivocally the importance of the European Commission’s Work Plan for 2020, which clearly presented plans to publish both an LGBTI and Roma strategies. 

As the European Commission is revising and re-prioritising its 2020 Work Plan, we, as Members of the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup and the LGBTI Rights Intergroup, urge you and the college of Commissioners to keep the planned strategies in your plan for Q4 2020 and equality and diversity high on your policy agenda. There is no holistic recovery plan without addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged and marginalised – there is no recovery from this economic and social crisis with a merely economic response.

Some EU Member States might not prioritise equality measures, but we must ensure that the European Commission does not follow this trend and sends a strong political message in support of this policy goal.

EU institutions must lead by example and we must ensure that fundamental EU values of equality and non-discrimination are strong and visible in the current circumstances. Taking concrete measures to promote equality – whether it is for LGBTI people, persons with disabilities, older people, young people, racialised communities or those most marginalised – is a part of a successful recovery plan and should not be postponed.  

Yours sincerely, 

LGBTI Rights Intergroup 

Marc ANGEL, Co-President 

Terry REINTKE, Co-President

Maria WALSH, Vice-President

Sophie in ‘t VELD, Vice-President

Malin BJÖRK, Vice-President

Fabio MASSIMO CASLTADO, Vice-President

Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup

Cornelia ERNST, Co-President

Evin INCIR, Co-President

Mónica SILVANA GONZÁLEZ, Co-President

Pierrette HERZBERGER-FOFANA, Co-President

Romeo FRANZ, Co-President

Hilde VAUTMANS, Vice-President