MEPs have adopted a Report on the Situation of Fundamental Rights in the EU.
Complied by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, it contains recommendations on issues such as poverty, homelessness, xenophobia, the treatment of Roma people and the application of anti-discrimination laws throughout the EU.
It was drafted by Italian MEP Giusto Catania and approved by 401 votes in favour, 220 against and 67 abstentions.
With regard to sexual orientation the report:
72. Takes the view that discriminatory comments against homosexuals by social and political leaders fuel hatred and violence, and calls on the relevant governing bodies to condemn them;
73. Welcomes the publication of the first thematic report by the Fundamental Rights Agency, drawn up at Parliament’s request, on Homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States and asks to Member States and EU institutions to urgently follow the Agency’s recommendations or state their reasons for not doing so;
74. Reminds all Member States that, in line with European Court of Human Rights case-law, freedom of assembly may be exercised even if the opinions of those exercising that right go against the majority, and that, accordingly, a discriminatory ban on marches and any failure to meet the requirement to give appropriate protection to those taking part breach the principles guaranteed by the European Court of Human Rights, by Article 6 of the EU Treaty on common EU values and principles, and by the Charter;
75. Calls on those Member States who have adopted legislation on same-sex partnerships to recognise provisions with similar effects adopted by other Member States; calls on those Member States to propose guidelines for mutual recognition of existing legislation between Member States in order to guarantee that the right of free movement within the European Union for same-sex couples applies under conditions equal to those applicable to heterosexual couples;
76. Urges the Commission to submit proposals ensuring that Member States apply the principle of mutual recognition for homosexual couples, whether they are married or living in a registered civil partnership, in particular when they are exercising their right to free movement under EU law;
77. Calls on those Member States who have not yet done so, and in application of the principle of equality, to take legislative action to overcome the discrimination experienced by some couples on the grounds of their sexual orientation;
78. Calls on the Commission to make sure that Member States grant asylum to persons fleeing from persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation in their country of origin, to take initiatives at the bilateral and multilateral level to stop the persecutions of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, and to launch a study on the situation of trans-sexual people in the Member States and candidate countries, with regard inter alia to the risk of harassment and violence.
Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles welcomed the adoption of the report.
She has campaigned for mutual recognition of same-sex partnerships by EU members.
In September she authored a written declaration calling for mutual recognition.
“I am delighted with the inclusion of this important clause into Parliament’s report,” she said.
“This situation has been overlooked for too long, to the cost of too many ordinary people.
“As my own campaign for mutual recognition ends this week, this report is a highly appropriate response to an issue many of us feel very strongly about.
“One of the best things about the EU is the liberty it affords all of us to live and work wherever we like in Europe.
“This fundamental right should not be conditional on what kind of marital or civil partnership anyone chooses to enter.
“A huge part of the problem has been that many couples simply aren’t aware that their partnerships may not be recognised in other member states.
“Often they only find out after one dies, and a few weeks later the widowed partner finds a five-figure inheritance tax bill hitting the doormat.
“Hopefully with the publicity this issue has gained – and the resolution Parliament adopted today – we can see an end to this situation in the near future.”
Currently some EU nations, including Spain and Belgium, do allow gay marriage.
The UK has civil partnerships, which are also to be introduced in the Republic of Ireland.
The French pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) is recognised in Britain, despite civil partnerships not being recognised in France.
Currently gay and lesbian people who have legal unions or same sex marriages are being denied the right to move and live freely among EU Member States.