Current Affairs

EU gay group tackles diversity error

Marc Shoffman November 28, 2006
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The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has vowed to seek an amendment to a statement from the European Parliament Bureau on diversity after it was revealed that sexual orientation was removed from the document.

The decision has been criticised by LGBT activists working at the European level as a dangerous precedent in the light of efforts to stop the creation of a so-called hierarchy of discriminations within the European Union.

The Intergroup has acted pro-actively in this matter, raising the point with individual Bureau members in order to reach a positive outcome.

“Our information reveals that there is a lot of confusion on the exact details of the meeting. Because detailed minutes are not available of these meetings, it makes it all the more difficult to determine the events that led to this omission with certitude,” Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights said.

“I believe the intentions of having a statement of principles was meant to highlight political will in favour of diversity within the Parliament’s secretariat, which, of course, I support, however, I feel that the text as it now stands leaves too much to interpretation.”

Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld remarked that conflicting interpretations of the statement of principles made it too easy for the text’s spirit to be misinterpreted, placing the Parliament in an awkward position despite initial good intentions, “We need to remember the European Institutions have well-developed policies on diversity, the resolutions passed by the Parliament on homophobia further highlights the commitment of our House to diversity. We welcome initial feedback that the Bureau may be willing to revisit this issue to improve the text.”

The International Lesbian and Gay Association expressed surprise at the omission after reports that a draft resolution of the European Parliament’s Secretariat, the administrative arm of the political body, had initially included sexual orientation, but was defeated by four votes to two, with two abstentions.

Deborah Lambillotte, co-chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board said: “We are more than surprised by such a decision. The omission of sexual orientation by the Parliament seems to be matching recent bad scores on diversity, equality and anti-discrimination by some of the member states.

“The principle which is now an integral part of the EU body of law and compulsory for the member states was completely disregarded and ignored by a disgraceful vote by the European Parliament’s secretariat.”

The resolution details anti-discrimination principles within the workplace of the European Parliament. It states that employees should not be discriminated against based on sex, disability race, colour or ethnicity

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