European Parliament asks Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania to step up efforts on LGBTI rights

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Last week, the European Parliament adopted its annual progress reports on Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. MEPs underlined the need to do more to further equality of LGBTI people.(Potential) accession states in the Western Balkans

In the report on Albania, MEPs welcome “the setting up of a working group on LGBTI rights in the Ministry of Social Affairs and the opening of the first LGBTI residential shelter.” (paragraph 21)

The Parliament also encourages the government to work on a gender recognition bill, meeting Council of Europe standards, including the right to self-determination.

In 2010, the Committee of Minister of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity which highlights that Member States should remove abusive requirements in their gender recognition procedures.

Furthermore, MEPs encourage Albanian authorities to consider creating the possibilities for same-sex couples to have their relationship recognised, for instance through cohabitation rights, registered partnership or equal marriage (paragraph 22).

In the report on Bosnia-Herzegovina, parliamentarians express their concern over the widespread hate speech, hate crimes, threats, harassment and discrimination against LGBTI people.

Accordingly, the Parliament encourages BiH authorities not only to include sexual orientation and gender identity in it hate crime law, but also to “implement awareness raising-action on the rights of LGBTI people among hte judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the general public.” (paragraphs 25 and 28).

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, added: “The principle of non-discrimination embedded in both countries’ legal codes now needs effective implementation strategies in order to improve the lives of LGBTI people in the country. It is unacceptable that people still have to live in fear, simply for being who they are.”

Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, reacted: “I am very happy with the positive developments in the region, but unfortunately homophobia and transphobia remain big problems in many accession countries.”

“By voting for these reports, the parliament made clear that respect for the rights of LGBTI people is a key aspect of EU integration.”

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