European Parliament takes stock of LGBT rights in Western Balkans and Turkey

Monday, 22 April 2013

Last week the European Parliament adopted five of its annual progress reports for candidate and potential candidate EU countries. MEPs addressed recommendations on LGBT rights to Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Turkey.

Enlargement countriesFor the first time in this legislature, no political group requested deleting paragraphs dealing with LGBT rights in these resolutions.

In the last report on Croatia before it joins the European Union on 1 July 2013, the Parliament recommended watching over discrimination, acts of intolerance and ensuring freedom of expression for minorities, including LGBT people.

MEPs welcomed positive developments in Montenegro, where the government has increased its work in favour of sexual orientation and gender identity, notably by engaging constructively with NGOs and neighbouring countries. Physical and verbal attacks were also deplored.

Regarding Serbia, the European Parliament stressed the importance of combating homophobic speech, threats and physical attacks. MEPs remain particularly concerned by repeated bans on Belgrade Pride, and recommend authorities adopt “an action plan to increase knowledge and understanding of LGBT rights, combat homophobia and improve security”.

Meanwhile, discrimination and attacks in Kosovo cause ongoing concern, mainly due to weak action by the government and police forces. MEPs recommend the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, including the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Finally, MEPs repeated concerns that Turkey‘s draft anti-discrimination law still excludes sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender citizens remain abnormally victims of physical violence and murders.

Commenting on the reports, Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Rapporteur on Kosovo, expressed support for the recent political agreement between Serbia and Kosovo. She added: “I’m happy that all political groups supported strong wording on LGBT rights across all five reports.”

“Colleagues across the political spectrum are united in addressing our neighbours in South Eastern Europe, to tell them openness, diversity and equality are our shared European values. I’m convinced the next years will see increasing openness to LGBT persons.”

Dennis de Jong MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, continued: “I remain worried that every year, Pride events are the occasion of threats and physical violence. We will keep making sure Members of the European Parliament go to as many Pride events as possible to support thriving LGBT communities in the Western Balkans and Turkey.”

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