Plenary Summary: Sexual harassment in the EU and MeToo evaluation, foreign interference in the EU and breaches of the Rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary
During its May II plenary session, the European Parliament Plenary debated and voted on several files that relates to the human rights of LGBTI persons:
- On sexual harassment in the EU and MeToo evaluation – Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)
- On foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation – Special Committee on foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation (INGE 2)
- On breaches of the Rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary and frozen EU funds
- (Note: For a complete list of all texts (and specific paragraphs) in this legislature touching upon LGBTI issues, check our List of resources available here.)
On Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament debated the report on sexual harassment in the EU and MeToo evaluation (rapporteur: Michal Šimečka (Renew)). The report was adopted on Thursday.
The Parliament welcomed the fact that gender equality is a core value of the EU and must be mainstreamed in all EU policies, activities and programmes and regrets the slow progress towards gender equality in the EU and recalls that gender-based violence is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality.
On LGBTIQ issues, it mentioned:
- C. (…); whereas there is a need for stronger EU legislation on combating gender-based violence and on health and safety at work, and to expand the legislation on harassment and sexual harassment beyond the working environment, in line with the Istanbul Convention, to fully address this issue in all areas of life and society; whereas the Employment Equality Directive enshrines the right not to be discriminated against, nor be subjected to harassment, in employment contexts on the basis of sexual orientation; whereas the ‘Gender Equality Directives’ stipulate that sex-based and sexual harassment at work and in access to goods and services are contrary to the principle of equal treatment between men and women; whereas the proposal for a directive on violence against women defines ‘sexual harassment at work’ as any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, (…);
- E. (…); whereas both harassers and victims may be of any sex or gender; whereas women, girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual and more (LGBTQIA+) persons and other vulnerable groups are particularly exposed and disproportionally affected(13); whereas more anonymised data is required to understand the breakdown of harassment cases, particularly keeping in mind that many LGBTQIA+ employees work in an environment marked by prejudice and hostility;(…) whereas gender-based discrimination, including sexual harassment, can be exacerbated where it intersects with discrimination based on other grounds prohibited by Union law, namely nationality, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation, and socio-economic class;(…) whereas 21 % of LGBTQIA+ people felt discriminated against and the percentage is even higher for trans (35 %) and intersex (32 %) people(16); (…)
- F. (…); whereas some professions, such as politicians, journalists or women’s rights and LGBTQIA+ activists, female activists in human rights civil organisations and other public figures are particularly likely to be victims of online violence and cyber harassment;(…); whereas more than a third (37 %) of girls who are from an ethnic minority and have suffered abuse say they have been targeted because of their race or ethnicity, while more than half (56 %) of those who identify as LGBTQIA+ say they have been harassed because of their gender identity or sexual orientation(19);
- 10. Calls on Member States to motivate people of all genders and gender identities to combat sexual harassment and actively participate in social change; considers that sexual harassment concerns people of all genders, and society as a whole;(…); calls on Member States to provide inclusive sexuality education for all, including boys and men, to recognise and prevent sexual harassment and abuse including of a LGBTQIA+ phobic nature;
- 23. Notes the importance of addressing intersectional sexual harassment, through creating an inclusive and respectful environment, where all members of the community are valued and treated with dignity, regardless of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, disability, or other characteristics; notes that the problem of intersectional sexual harassment should be a concern of society as a whole; notes that it is important to have a comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy that takes into account intersectionality and the unique experiences of marginalised groups; calls for education, training, and awareness-raising efforts that address intersectionality and the specific needs of marginalised groups to be provided to staff and members of the European institutions;
- 26. (…); calls for more gender-disaggregated data to ascertain the extent to which harassment affects employees within the EP, including a particular focus on the LGBTQIA+ community; (…)
On Thursday, Members of the European Parliament debated the report on foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation (rapporteur: Sandra Kalniete (EPP)). The report was adopted on Thursday.
The Parliament underlined that Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine brought to the fore the links between attempts at foreign manipulation of information and threats to the EU and its immediate neighborhood, Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, as well as to global security and stability; noting that Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine made the effects of Russia’ interference in democratic processes, which began long before the invasion and is based on historical revisionism, even more obvious.
On LGBTIQ issues, it mentioned:
- BM. whereas Europe is seeing a growing number of anti-gender movements, specifically targeting sexual and reproductive health, women’s rights and LGBTIQ+ people; whereas such movements proliferate disinformation in order to reverse progress in women’s rights and gender equality; whereas these movements have been reported to receive millions of euros in foreign funding, either public or private, including from Russia and the US;
- 84. Recalls that foreign interference is often linked to political objectives contrary to the EU and its democratic values, covering up blatant violations of human rights, restricting the rights of women and LGBTIQ+ communities, and fomenting hatred towards minorities, migrants and the most vulnerable people;
- 86. Worries that the LGBTIQ+ community remains a target for foreign interference and disinformation campaigns; is concerned about the situation of the LGBTIQ+ community in several Member States, such as Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, and the disinformation spread by state-owned media and far-right organisations on the topic; regrets that disinformation and hate-speech against LGBTIQ+ were the primary motive that lead to the murder of two young people in Slovakia in October 2022; calls for the development of long-term programmes supporting local grassroots organisations and citizens’ initiatives to help develop the population’s resistance to right-wing extremism;
- 90. Reiterates the need for targeted action, through a harmonised EU legal framework, against the spread of disinformation and hate speech on issues related to gender, LGBTIQ+ and Roma people, other minorities, immigrants and refugees and people with disabilities as well as religious communities; reiterates its call on the Commission to develop and implement strategies to hinder the financing of anti-gender groups, movements and individuals that actively spread disinformation or participate in information manipulation targeting LGBTIQ+ people, women’s rights, minorities, refugees, people with disabilities and issues affecting them, with the aim of dividing society;
On Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament debated the resolution breaches of the Rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary and frozen EU funds. The resolution was adopted on Thursday.
The Parliament reiterated its findings, concerns and recommendations expressed in its previous resolutions on Hungary and especially the 12 areas outlined in its resolutions of 12 September 2018 and 15 September 2022; condemning the deliberate and systematic efforts of the Hungarian Government to undermine the founding values of the EU enshrined in Article 2 TEU; recalling that the Hungarian Government is responsible for restoring compliance with EU law and the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU; regretting the fact that the horizontal anti-discrimination directive has been blocked in the Council since 2008 and reiterates its previous calls on the Council to urgently unblock the horizontal anti-discrimination directive after 15 years of inaction.
On LGBTIQ issues, it mentioned:
- K. (…); whereas on 11 April 2023, the Hungarian National Assembly finally adopted new legislation aimed at replacing the 2013 Whistleblower Protection Act and transposing Directive (EU) 2019/1937 into national law; whereas the amendments included provisions allowing citizens to report activities that go against the Hungarian way of life and the Fundamental Law, such as activities violating the ‘constitutionally recognised role of marriage and the family’; whereas this law was then sent back to the Hungarian National Assembly by the Hungarian President; whereas this law, if adopted as envisaged, would have legitimised open discrimination and posed a serious threat to the rights of LGBTIQ+ people and to the freedom of expression of everyone in Hungary; whereas on 23 May 2023, the National Assembly adopted the law after excluding the controversial provisions;
- R. (…); whereas the Commission concluded that Hungary is currently not fulfilling the horizontal enabling condition on the Charter with regard to judicial independence and the provisions of several laws posing serious risks to LGBTIQ+ rights, academic freedom and the right to asylum; whereas Hungary concluded in its self-assessment on the lack of fulfilment of several thematic enabling conditions, in particular its national strategic framework for gender equality, its national strategic policy framework for social inclusion and poverty reduction, and its national Roma inclusion strategic policy framework;
- 2. (…); is further concerned about the repeated and abusive invocation of the ‘state of danger’, the misuse of whistleblower protections to undermine LGBTIQ+ rights and freedom of expression, and the restriction of teachers’ status and the infringement of their social and labour rights, which is threatening academic freedom;