LGTBI people still suffer from violence and discrimination in Europe, and the EU and its member states should do more to protect their rights, Parliament says.

In a non-legislative resolution approved on Thursday by show of hands, MEPs ask member states for legislation ensuring promotion and protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGTBI) children’s fundamental rights.

They ask the EU for a comprehensive strategic framework on LGTBI rights, similar to those on other topics such as gender equality and disability, and calls on the Commission to adopt a new strategic document to promote equality for LGTBI people.

MEPs also voice concern over the non-binding nature of the Commission’s List of Actions to advance LGTBI equality, and calls for EP and civil society organisations involvement in the design of future LGTBI Lists of Actions. They underline that the promotion of LGTBI rights in external action is binding for both the EU and its Member States but the lack of a binding internal strategy “poses a threat to internal and external cohesion”.

They denounce some EU countries require sterilisation and mental health diagnoses to access legal gender recognition, and call on the European Commission to assess whether these requirements are in line with the Charter of Fundamental rights.

Rights of intersex people

In another non-legislative resolution, also adopted on Thursday by show of hands, the Plenary stressed that intersexuality should no longer be dealt with as a pathology, and called on member states to pursue the removal of the category of “gender incongruence in childhood” in the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation.

Intersex individuals are born with physical sex characteristics that do not fit medical or social norms for female or male bodies. These variations may manifest in primary characteristics (such as the inner and outer genitalia, the chromosomal and hormonal structure) and/or secondary characteristics (such as muscle mass, hair distribution and stature).

MEPs condemn the high prevalence of sex normalising treatments and surgery, despite not being medically necessary in most of the cases, and encourage EU countries to follow the example of those, such as Portugal and Malta, where these surgical procedures are banned. They also demand more flexibility in birth registration procedures and facilitating the change of names on identity cards.

EP calls on the European Commission and member states to increase their support, including financial aid, to organisations fighting the stigmatisation of intersex people. Parliament also demands the Commission to make sure that EU funds do not support research or medical projects that further contribute to human rights’ violations of intersex people.

“There are still profound misunderstandings and prejudices towards intersex people, both in Europe and around the world. In many countries, babies are forced to have medically unnecessary surgeries; children are put on hormonal treatments or other procedures – all to change their appearance to fit in with societal norms of what it is to look male or female. This is all done without the consent of the person concerned. These procedures can cause serious long-term damage, including infertility or sever psychological suffering. We are calling on all national governments to prohibit these medically unnecessary surgeries and treatments on intersex children immediately,” said S&D Group MEP and co-president of the LGBTI intergroup Daniele Viotti.

“Intersex people face discrimination throughout their lives. By adopting this resolution today, the Parliament aims to raise awareness of the issues intersex people face and pressure governments to take action. As well as prohibiting medically unnecessary procedures done without consent, governments should provide greater levels of support to ensure that intersex people’s rights are respected,” he conluded.

“The Parliament also backed a separate resolution calling on the next European Commission to prioritise LGBTI issues. LGBTI people continue to suffer from high levels of discrimination and violence in EU countries. However, the Commission to date has not adopted a full comprehensive strategy to ensure that the fundamental rights of LGBTI people are respected, as it has for disability and Roma inclusion. The Parliament has sent a clear message today that this is not acceptable and the next Commission must come forward with such a strategy as a matter of urgency,” added S&D Group vice-president Tanja Fajon.