The European Union’s executive Commission launched its first strategy to protect the rights of LGBT people on Thursday, a challenge to right-wing governments in Poland and Hungary that have become increasingly homophobic in the past year.
According to survey figures cited by the commission, 43% of LGBT people last year said they felt discriminated against, up from 37% in 2012. That increase came even though 76% of EU citizens said lesbians, gays, and bisexuals should have equal rights to heterosexuals, up from 71% in 2015.
The new strategy comes as right-wing governments in some former Communist eastern EU member states have made campaigning against gay rights a central part of their ruling ideology.
The Commission has proposed including homophobic hate crimes in a list of so-called “Eurocrimes”, major offences such as terrorism and human trafficking, for which the EU can set minimum rules. That would require unanimity among EU members.
The EU strategy would also seek to ensure that the legal status of relationships in families that include LGBT people cannot be revoked when they cross borders.
The Guardian reports:
Brussels has put itself on a collision course with the Polish and Hungarian governments after proposing to criminalise hate speech against LGBTQ+ people under EU law and secure recognition of same-sex partnerships across the bloc’s borders. Věra Jourová, a European commissioner, said the measures followed new “worrying trends”, with the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reporting that 43% of LGBT people had declared feeling discriminated against in 2019, compared with 37% in 2012.
Jourová cited attacks on Pride marches and the move by more than 100 Polish municipalities to declare themselves as “LGBT-free zones” as further evidence of increased discrimination. Jourová said the commission was also following events in Hungary, where a constitutional amendment was proposed this week by Viktor Orbán’s rightwing government to ensure that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children.