European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Commissioner Reding meets LGBT activists on the occasion of IDAHO

On 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), Viviane Reding, the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, meet with ILGA-Europe’s secretariat and representatives of ILGA-Europe memberships and LGBTI communities.

On 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), Viviane Reding, the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, meet with ILGA-Europe’s secretariat and representatives of ILGA-Europe memberships and LGBTI communities: Eduardas Platovas and Vladimir Simonko from Lithuanian Gay League, Kaisa, a Finnish national who feature in the latest ILGA-Europe’s video on the lack of mutual recognition of same-sex families and their children in Europe, and Richard Köhler from Transgender Europe.

During the meeting, the LGBTI community representatives provided Commissioner Reding with first-hand experiences and testimonies on the situation of LGBTI people in Europe.

In particular, the representatives of Lithuanian Gay League, described a worrying situation in their country whose parliament initiated a series of legislative amendments which would seriously violate the rights to education, information, assembly and association of LGBTI people and which are clearly motivated by homophobia.

Kaisa described the range of problems that her female partner (a French national) and her children experience as a result of the absence of clear legal parental ties between them, in spite of the fact that the couple registered a pact of civil solidarity (PACS) in 2004. The lack of mutual recognition of civil status in the EU causes the family great difficulties before and during travels within the EU. Additionally, in spite of Finland’s registered partnership legislation, no legal ties are recognised between Kaisa and her partner in the country as Finland disregards French PACS law. Kaisa explained that her situation is not unique at all.

Representative of Transgender Europe explained the particular problems and discrimination trans people face in employment, as well as described inhumane treatment trans people receive as a result of various requirements prior to gender recognition such as compulsory sterilisation, divorce and diagnosis of trans identity as mental disorder.

Commissioner Reding said she is aware of the situation in Lithuania and personally monitors it. In regards to the lack of mutual recognition of civil status documents among the EU countries, the Commissioner expressed her concern with the situation generally and pointed to a number of problems which exist and affect both individuals, different-sex and same-sex families because of this situation. Commissioner Reding expressed her particular concern regarding the situation of children in same-sex families because of such legal uncertainty in the EU. On the issues of trans people, the Commissioner said she is aware of the hardship trans people experience, and welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the problems faced by trans people. She promised to pay greater attention to the issue in the future.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, who was one of ILGA-Europe’s representatives at the meeting, said:

“We are very pleased Commissioner Reding met us and the representatives of our membership and LGBTI communities on a day when the world marks the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Commissioner Reding has been already actively involved and vocal on the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. While we are aware of and appreciate the Commissioner’s commitment to equality and human rights issues for all, we hope this meeting and the different personal accounts told to the Commissioner will help her in strengthening the case for the European institutions to develop solid policies addressing the discrimination that LGBTI people suffer in the European Union.”