The publication of the European Commission’s first Annual Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights prompted members of the European Parliament last week to praise the work done so far but to also say stronger leadership is needed when it comes to ensuring basic rights for women and LGBTs in the European Union.
From UK Gay News:
“This report shows the EU plays a fundamental role in safeguarding human rights,” said Raül Romeva i Rueda, vice-president of the Parliament’s Intergroup on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, and MEP in charge of a draft Europe-wide anti-discrimination Directive.
“The European Parliament has repeatedly asked that the Commission take action to protect these rights, and it’s essential that President Barroso and Vice-President Reding keep pressing for this new anti-discrimination Directive.”
Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the Intergroup said that report gave a good overview of how the Commission worked to bolster fundamental rights in the EU last year.
“I applaud the work undertaken … But Commissioners have been far too hesitant at times, and failed to show leadership in particular when a European consensus did not exist, such as on LGBT people’s fundamental rights.”
“While we must — and will — work together on applying the Charter within the limits defined by the Treaties, the Commission must also be firmer and quicker when reacting to injustice, both legally and politically,” Mr. Cashman added.
With the Charter of Fundamental Rights having become legally binding on 1 December 2009, the annual report was set up to provide an exhaustive review of how successfully leaders are ensuring citizens’ basic rights.
The European Parliament must now analyze the report and provide comments with reference to how fundamental human rights can be strengthened in EU member states and how the Commission can better react to breaches of fundamental rights.
As touched upon above, membership in the European Union commits a country to a binding legal framework to protect human rights. This includes protections on the basis of gender and sexual orientation and is a standard that countries desiring membership are frequently being asked to meet prior to their joining.
For instance, Turkey and Montenegro have in the past month been told that in order for them to join the EU they must first make strides in protecting LGBTs as well as improving women’s rights. Montenegro already has gay-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation, yet institutionalized discrimination still persists. In the same way, EU mandates against discrimination don’t necessarily preclude human rights infringements by member states.
MEPs recently decried a decision by Lithuania’s conservative lawmakers who are trying to have gender reassignment outlawed in the country, a move that is in direct defiance of a European Court of Human Rights ruling.
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