GALHA vice-president in the forefront of the fight against Catholic-inspired homophobia
GALHA's energetic vice-president Michael Cashman is in the forefront of the fight against the homophobia which still exists in some European states - notably ultra-Catholic Lithuania and Poland:
MEPs demand EU clampdown on homophobia
Friday, 13 January 2006
The European Parliament is calling for tough action against EU member states that fail to uphold the human rights of homosexuals.
MEPs from all the main political groups have tabled resolutions condemning moves by several EU countries, including Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, which they believe stigmatise gays and lesbians.
"We need to fight across Europe for similar equality but worryingly many European countries are not nearly at this stage," said Michael Cashman, the British Labour MEP.
"Gay pride marches are still being banned, political and religious leaders are using the language of hate and menace and police are failing to protect peaceful demonstrations and break up violent unrest by homophobic groups."
Polish president Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz last year claimed that homosexuality is "unnatural" and several gay pride marchers were arrested for attending "illegal demonstrations".
Marcinkiewicz also called for the abolition of a Polish organisation fighting discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Meanwhile, Latvia and Lithuania have both proposed legislation banning same-sex marriages.
MEPs have ordered the European Commission to explain what sanctions will be taken against countries that persistently breach the principle of respect for human rights.
"Where EU countries breach the human rights of gay and lesbian people, the council of ministers must consider action to suspend member states' membership of the EU," said Cashman."We need the commission to tell us how many EU governments are failing to adhere to anti-discrimination legislation and what they intend to do about those who are ignoring it."
Vice-President Franco Frattini is expected to be in Strasbourg on Monday to reiterate the commission's determination to stamp out homophobia. But he is likely to stop short of an outright condemnation of Warsaw's actions. The Italian was only appointed commissioner for justice and freedom in November 2004 after his compatriot, Rocco Buttiglione, was forced out the post by MEPs for his own outspoken views. Parliament was so incensed by Buttiglione's claims that homosexuality was "a sin" that it refused to endorse the entire 'college' of 25 commissioners until he was replaced. Buttiglione refused to apologise for his beliefs, and it is the same militant Catholicism that appears to motivate the political leaders in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. But any political moves to ban, marginalise or criminalise homosexuality are likely to be met by fierce opposition both at home as well as in Brussels. Courts in Poland have already refused to begin criminal proceedings against the protestors arrested in November, arguing that they had not acted illegally.