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Time to speak out!
An old ghost is back in Poland, the ghost of homophobia. The government PiS party, rather inaptly called “Law and Justice party”, has opened a veritable witch hunt against LGBTI people. Local governments stating by decree that their area is “LGBTI ideology free”, and a government-controlled newspaper handing out free “LGBTI free zone” stickers. Political and religious leaders engaging in hate speech, creating a climate where homophobic violence is on the ri...se again. LGBTI people are scared and some are considering leaving the country because they do not feel safe anymore. This is deeply shameful in Europe!
We cannot turn a blind eye and consider this a national matter. Each member state of the European Union is bound by Article 2 of the Treaties:
“The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.
The current European Commission has started an Article 7 procedure against Poland for violating the values laid down in Article 2. But the procedure (though wholly justified and urgent!) has a very narrow focus on matters relating to the judiciary. The Commission shied away from addressing other violations, like women's rights and the right to a safe and legal abortion, the right to assembly and freedom of speech and of the media. But the Commission has a duty to uphold the rights of all European citizens, and tackle all violations of European values.
The next Commission should also launch a comprehensive LGBTI Strategy to make sure that all LGBTI people have access to their rights everywhere in the EU. Moreover, the next Commission should make sure that the horizontal EU anti-discrimination legislation will be put back on the table as a matter of priority. The Council should finally adopt such rules and stop its decade-long blockage of this file that comes at the expense of EU citizens' rights.
I call on the current and future political leaders of the Commission, the Council and of course the European Parliament to fully and without reservations condemn the homophobic hate campaign of the PiS party and their allies, and call for an immediate end to the violent attacks on LGBTI people. Mr Juncker, Mrs Von der Leyen, Mr Timmermans, Mr Tusk, Mr Michel, Mr Sassoli and all group leaders: time to speak out loud and clear! Europe has no place for homophobia!