Tomorrow, Friday 17 May, marks the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, calling attention to discrimination suffered by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in the EU and around the world.

“The European Commission will always strongly condemn violence, discrimination, harassment and hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. We all have the right to live free from dehumanisation, ill-treatment or even persecution, regardless of how we identify and regardless whom we love, and this right must be resolutely defended if we are all to be equals in society,” stated First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

“The discrimination of the LGBTI community in the EU covers many aspects of life, such as employment, social security and protection, education and health. Public expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity, such as holding hands on the street or sharing a picture on social media, are too often met with biased and hateful remarks or even violence. We have set up a series of actions at EU-level, but Member States play a pivotal role in making these efforts effective. I therefore strongly encourages Member States to maintain and expand their own initiatives,” added Commissioner Věra Jourová. 

High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini has also issued a declaration on behalf of the European Union today.

“Across the world, cultural, traditional or religious values continue to be used to justify persecution, discrimination, bullying and gross ill-treatment against LGBTI persons, often involving hate crimes and extreme forms of violence, including torture and murder. In 72 countries, sexual orientation laws continue to criminalise same-sex acts, and in other countries, the laws do not offer the necessary level of protection, allowing various forms of discrimination to happen on a daily basis in all spheres of life of LGBTI persons. The EU strongly reaffirms that discrimination against LGBTI persons undermines the most basic human rights principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Mogherini said.

“The EU continues its fight against impunity for acts of discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons both inside and outside its territory. In this context, the Commission published a ‘List of actions to advance LGBTI equality’ to be implemented by the Commission between 2016 and 2019, which includes activities in various relevant policy areas ranging from non-discrimination, education, employment, health, free movement, asylum, hate speech/hate crime, to enlargement and foreign policy.

Through its external action, the EU holds regular political dialogues with third countries and supports civil society organisations through targeted financial assistance. Since 2016, the EU has supported 16 projects implemented by civil society organisations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe worth €5.2 million. In 2018, the EU launched a specific call for proposals worth €10 million to support LGBTI organisations worldwide. Moreover, the recent adoption of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-Discrimination reinforces the existing EU Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI persons,” added Mogherini.

In March this year, the Commission published its

annual report on the implementation of the List of actions to advance LGBTI equality in 2018, which provides an overview of the ambitious set of measures the Commission is implementing to combat discrimination against LGBTI people.

This evening, the European Commission headquarters will be lit up in the colours of the rainbow flag as a beacon of support for the LGBTI community and its allies. This afternoon, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and around 30 diplomatic missions worldwide published a

joint statement to mark this day.

Tomorrow, the Commission is also hosting, under the responsibility of Commissioner Günther Oettinger, an event for European Commission staff on the theme “Rainbow networks: How important are they?”

On 15 June, Commissioner Jourová will be joining the European Commission float at the EuroPride Parade in Vienna.