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The EU must continue working to end all forms of violence and discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) people all over the world.

Ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTBI 2020), on 17 May, the Chairs of the Committees on Civil Liberties and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, and the Subcommittee on Human Rights underlined there is still a lot to do, within the EU and throughout the rest of the world.

Civil Liberties Committee Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, the motto for IDAHOTBI 2020 'Break the Silence' is particularly significant. It is paramount that every citizen, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or sex characteristics, be equally protected and benefit from the same rights all over Europe. Moreover, it is of utmost importance for the Council to finally adopt the anti-discrimination directive outside of work that has been blocked for too many years”.

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee Chair Evelyn Regner (S&D, AT) underlined: “COVID-19 is testing our societies severely. In times of crisis, we have to protect groups at risk like women and LGBTIQ people, because they are the most affected by a surge of violence. Isolation hits LGBTIQ people often especially hard, since the exchange with their communities is more difficult. It is of utmost importance to ensure their access to health services and guarantee that rainbow families can meet, no matter their official legal status. The European Parliament will never be silent in the eyes of this backlash in European Member States”.

Maria Arena (S&D, BE), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, added: “In many countries, LBGTIQ people are subject to discrimination and harassment. This situation has worsened in the context of the current pandemic, with the United Nations reporting an increase of homophobic and transphobic rhetoric and violence in many places around the world. No country should use states of emergencies or other stay-at-home restrictions to discriminate against LGBTIQ people or roll back existing rights and guarantees that apply to them. Moreover, countries should recognise that LGBTIQ people are among those particularly vulnerable in this crisis, and take targeted steps to ensure that they are taken into consideration and their voices heard when addressing the pandemic”.

On Sunday 17 May, the European Parliament will join the IDAHOTBI 2020 festivities by raising the rainbow flag outside all its central buildings in Brussels, as well as the Station Europe building and the EP Liaison Offices in the member states.

Background

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia commemorates the decision taken in 1990 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. Until that date, it was considered a mental disorder.