This week has witnessed two important steps towards equality for LGBT people in Europe. On March 13, the European Parliament has adopted its annual report on equality between women and men in the European Union. The text looks at recent advances in gender equality, and includes several recommendations for LGBT rights.
The report, drafted by Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP,acknowledges that “families in the European Union are diverse” and include “different-sex and same-sex parents […] who deserve equal protection under national and European Union law”.The Parliament also “regrets the implementation by some Member States of restrictive definitions of ‘family’ in order to deny legal protection to same-sex couples and their children”. Among other countries, Lithuania, Romania and Hungary recently adopted laws that seek to define ‘family’ in a discriminatory way.
Sophie in ‘t Veld, author of the report and Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, explained: “I don’t know what it is about Europe that allows us to recognise bread as bread and cheese as cheese when they go from the Netherlands to Germany, but not love as love. Conservative colleagues keep trying to cage same-sex families in their own country. But freedom of movement is for everyone in the EU, and equality will prevail.”
In the field of hate crime, the Parliament has also urged the Commission “to include homophobic and transphobic violence and harassment in its action programmes against gender-based violence”.
Finally, the Parliament has called on the Danish Presidency of the EU to unblock the proposed horizontal anti-discrimination Directive; suggested enforced cooperation between countries who have same-sex unions to facilitate the free movement of couples within their territory, as European Alternatives has advocated for years (see our video on this topic here); and repeated its call for an EU Roadmap for Equality on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
On the same day, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to ensure national laws on successions are respected throughout the European Union. The Parliament said this new European law must respect the existing rights of same-sex spouses and partners.Drafted by Kurt Lechner MEP, the report on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession was adopted with a wide majority in the European Parliament today.
According to recital (24), Member States who do not recognise same-sex unions will not be allowed to reject succession decisions that are legal under Member States that do. The text explains that the courts or other competent authorities should not be able to apply the public-policy exception in order to set aside the law of another State or to refuse to recognise , or, as the case may be, accept, or enforce a decision, an authentic instrument, or a court settlementfrom another Member State when doing so would be contrary to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 21, which prohibits all forms of discrimination.
Under this regulation, a Spanish citizen married to an Italian of the same-sex under Spanish law could inherit his or her possessions in Italy, even though Italy does not recognise same-sex marriage. The text is proposed according to the ordinary legislative procedure, in which the European Parliament has an equal say to European governments. This text was the European Parliament’s first reading out of potentially three readings. However, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark have opted out of this type of legislation.
(Source: Press release from European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights)