Writing for PinkNews, Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Adrian Trett says although equal marriage campaigners are scoring big victories in France and Britain, activists in other European nations need greater support in achieving the goal.
During the past few years, rights for the LGBT community have been uppermost on the political agenda, and the debate in many countries for equal marriage has hit epidemic proportions, especially in our own.
Yet, closer to home Liberal parties across Europe can and should be giving a far greater voice and encouragement to push for LGBT rights as is currently happening in France and the UK particularly on equal marriage. Previously, European countries have been at the forefront of legislation, as in the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden to name but a few with Liberal parties in all these countries passing LGBT policies since 2000.
Without doubt, however this is not happening for all our European neighbours. I was very honoured to be given the opportunity to speak to the Associazione Radicale di Cert Diritti Conference in Naples in April on the topic of equal marriage, and how the campaign has developed in the United Kingdom.
There were also speakers from other EU countries and video presentations made by campaigners in Argentina and the United States. All highlighted the campaign.
In Italy, which is devotedly religious, the obstacles to equality for LGBT people seem as deep as ever, but the example of its catholic brothers and sisters in Spain, Portugal and Argentina all give hope that equal marriage and rights for LGBT people can and will be achieved in Italy.
You can view my speech here – though it is all in Italian, it is a manifestation of how all parties of whatever political persuasion can arouse change. I hope that the Naples conference will be a catalyst for the debate in Italy. In particular, I hope that those members of the Italian Parliament and the Senate who attended the conference will take heart from the international activists and take on the challenge.
Finally, this takes me to a wider point regarding “Liberal” parties across the international spectrum. This should be a clear-cut issue and as such, Liberal International has set up a Facebook group for LGBT activists across Europe, called LGBTI Workgroup and I would encourage activists from across Europe to join and that way information and good practice can be shared across all European Liberal parties who are part of ALDE group (Alliance of Liberal and Democrats in Europe).
It is also the case that within Liberal parties, like the Liberal Democrats there should and must be active LGBT+ campaigning bodies. This was highlighted in Naples that for instance this is the case in the Netherlands, and the UK but many other parties, particularly in Italy but also elsewhere do not have campaigning bodies to push the agenda in their respective parties. Let’s hope our pooled knowledge and resources can invigorate the debate in those countries that are lagging behind!
Adrian Trett is Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrats European Group.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of PinkNews.co.uk