Monthly Archive March 2019

Statement on the next EP elections

In an increasingly polarised climate, with anti-gender and far right movements on the rise, core EU values are being called into question. It is thus ever more important to express a strong and explicit commitment to human rights. In order to reconnect to EU citizens and reinstate their trust in the European project, in EU policy-makers and institutions, the celebration of the differences of all EU citizens should be at the core of any pro-EU party manifesto, including the ALDE Party one and the ones of all liberal parties at a national level. In times of increasing threats against the very values the Union was founded upon, a strong commitment to human rights is crucial.

LGBTI Liberals of Europe therefore hopes to see this commitment strongly voiced in the guiding documents for the upcoming legislature, and thus enshrined in the continued work of the European Union.

As such, we subscribe to the five key asks, developed by ILGA-Europe, to the EU institutions under the next legislature:

  1. Championing, engaging, promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTI people in both internal and external EU policies, including the adoption of a comprehensive and well-defined strategy for action for the European Commission on LGBTI rights, following form the list of actions on LGBTI rights, ensuring consistency of the EU voice on these rights throughout its actions at all levels and in all contexts.
  2. Ensuring that the EU is a strong advocate for the human rights of trans and intersex people, and supporting Member States in developing, adopting and implementing corresponding legislation, policies and action plans.
  3. Placing key emphasis on the development of comprehensive anti-discrimination standards covering all aspects of life, including explicitly on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, applicable throughout the EU, as well as including this as a condition for third countries in partnership or association agreements with the EU.
  4. Ensuring full freedom of movement for all EU citizens, including same-sex couples and their families.
  5. Being a strong defender of the rule of law and fundamental rights, including civil society space and human rights defenders.

Reflection of the above asks in the ALDE Party manifesto, and the ones of all liberal parties at a national level, would contribute to strengthening the commitment of the EU to the human rights of LGBTI people across Europe and beyond at a time when the movement is facing increasing external threats.

Each employee must be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.

    Diversity is a powerful resource for companies and should be cherished and managed rather than discouraged. In this way companies can improve the wellbeing of their employees and increase efficiency and profit at the same time. Public employees are still employees and should be treated the same way. Therefore, LGBTI people must be able to serve openly in the military and all other police forces.

All countries should protect LGBTI people from discrimination

    LGBTI people mustn’t be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.

    As liberals we believe that positive measures – such as education and training on LGBTI people and rights, which increase reciprocal comprehension and tolerance – are more effective than the criminalisation of discrimination per se. Such measures are also the best antidote to the abuse of civil, administrative or, even worse, penal sanctions in this field. Among these positive measures some are particularly important:

  • Training of public officers – prioritising employees in the departments of Justice, Home Security, Labour, Health and Education – journalists and athletes;
  • Anti-bullying programs in all schools;
  • The creation and empowerment of an equality body truly independent from the government;
  • The creation of adequate data collection and monitoring mechanisms on hate crimes, discrimination and incitement to discriminate, hostility or violence, involving NGOs.

    As liberals we are aware of the possible tension between the right of access to goods and services and the right to freedom of contract, but we feel that the former should prevail when it comes to the ascribed characteristic of the person.

All countries should protect LGBTI people from violence

    As liberals we consider violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics as unacceptable as violence based on any other ascribed characteristic of the person.

    As liberals we believe that the penal law should not be used symbolically by passing manifesto-laws which merely serve abstract and ideological functions: “the penal law shouldn’t lie dormant values with the threat of the sword [by threatening penal sanctions], but should protect values already lay dormant through dialog and consent.” (Fornasari, 2008)

Everyone should be able to speak their minds including LGBTI people

    In 2 countries (Russia and Lithuania) the so called “propaganda” of homosexuality is illegal and others countries are currently looking at passing similar laws. In many more countries it’s illegal to hold LGBTI events. As Liberals we strongly believe that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are at the core of an open and free society, which are the main conditions conducive to success in strategies against prejudice. We advocate for LGBTI events to be allowed everywhere and LGBTI people to freely speak their minds in public.

    The same principle applies to whoever may express thoughts against LGBTI people. As liberals we believe that censoring controversial views is counterproductive and would risk turning homophobes into martyrs of free speech.

    Having said that, in limited circumstances the State – according to international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed by 168 parties – has to prohibit incitement to discrimination, hostility and/or violence against LGBTI people.

Nobody should be punished, incarcerated or sentenced to death for loving someone of the same gender and LGBTI people fleeing those countries must be welcomed and protected.

    In 70 countries it is still illegal to have a same-sex relationship and in 7 of them they risk the death penalty. As liberals, we recognise that sodomy laws, and not homosexuality, are relics of the colonial era. We therefore advocate the EU and CoE to use all diplomatics means at their disposal to pressure all those countries to repeal laws that criminalise homosexuality.

    LGBTI people seeking refuge must be welcomed and protected from the discrimination they may face from the welcoming community and their own community of origin.

    Persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics need to be considered grounds for seeking asylum. Receiving countries need to have fully trained personnel to deal with LGBTI refugees and must make sure LGBTI refugees are protected from possible violence and discrimination coming from the receiving society and the community of origin.

Each individual is entitled to freely make decisions about their lives and bodies – Self-determination

    The individual is at the core of liberal thinking. As liberals, we believe that the State is there to empower individual freedoms and protect the individual from other institutions (such as families), not to protect the individuals from themselves.

    Trans people have a right to self-determination as everybody else and are the ones who know best who they are. No doctor or judge should get to assess a person’s gender identity. This also includes young people since the right to self-determination and recognition before the law does not know any age limit. Therefore, self-determination must be the ultimate goal for adults and children of all legal gender recognition processes and abusive requirements, such as sterilisation, must be removed.

LGBTI people must have equal access to health care

LGBTI individuals and same-sex couples must have equal access to all medical techniques and procedures available, including IVF and surrogacy.

    Health care providers must be fully trained to cater for the needs of LGBTI patients. Body integrity is a fundamental human right and intersex children must not undergo surgery unless it’s necessary to save their lives.

    The State must implement polices to prevent the spread of all STIs.

Reproductive rights – Surrogacy

    Surrogacy should be legally allowed as a parenting option to individuals, single or coupled, that lack the reproductive capacity to become parents without the help of a surrogate.

    Women everywhere should have the right to decide when, how and under which circumstances they agree to help intended parents by donating eggs and / or carrying a baby for them.

    Appropriate legislation should be advanced to allow prospective parents, donors and surrogates everywhere to enter into legally enforceable agreements for surrogacy arrangements without the need to cross state or international borders.

    Appropriate legislation should be enacted to protect the rights of all the parties in a surrogacy journey, and seamlessly terminate any parental rights and obligations of donors and surrogates.

    Diligent measures, including appropriate regulation, should be taken to ensure all parties to a surrogacy journey make informed decisions and provide explicit consent regarding their participation. Special attention should be made to make sure candidates for egg donation and surrogacy are given access to independent medical and legal advice, and ongoing psychological and emotional support.

    The parties for a surrogacy journey should have the right to agree on a reasonable monetary compensation, possibly within regulatory guidelines, to compensate the donor and surrogate for the risk, effort and inconvenience associated with their contribution, but it should not be tied in any way to specific outcomes.

    Mediating agencies can play vital roles in helping match surrogate and donor candidates with prospective parents, as well as provide support and coordination services throughout the process. While they deserve compensation for their effort and expertise, excessive “finder’s fees” that take advantage of the scarcity of suitable candidates should be prevented through regulation. Ideally at least the service of finding surrogates and egg donors should be performed by not-for-profit matching services.

All individual should be treated the same way regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics.

    All people must be treated equally. Therefore the age of consent must be the same for all variations of intercourse.

    Civil marriage must be open to both straight and same-sex couples.

    LGBTI individuals and same-sex couples must have equal access to adoption.            

Family laws should reflect the free choices that individuals make in organising their relationships.

    Same-sex couple’s legal parenthood of their children must be automatically obtained at their birth by both parents.

    Currently 14 EU Member States (EUMS) provide marriage for same-sex couples, and in another 9 EUMS same-sex couples can enter a registered partnership. At present 6 EUMS provide no legal recognition for same-sex couples. Due to these great differences between EUMS regarding the legal recognition for same-sex couples, LGBTI people and their families encounter, when residing in other EUMS, difficulties on grounds of sexual orientation that different-sex couples do not experience. They may encounter difficulties in such areas as recognition of their relationship, divorce and separation, immigration, children’s rights, parental responsibility, employment benefits and pension, property regimes, inheritance, recognition and enforcement of rights/obligations already acquired in host/other Member States, and possible other areas.

The Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a judgment on 5 June 2018, saying that the definition of ‘spouse’ in EU law on freedom of movement includes same-sex couples. So, EU Member States are under an obligation to grant the spouse (including from a country outside the EU) of an EU citizen a residence permit in the same way they would grant permits to different-sex spouses.

Freedom of movement one of the four fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the EU and all same-sex couples and families must be able to move freely within the EU seeing their marriages recognised and without losing their rights, duties and protections when they do so.