Current Affairs

Gay MEP worried about EU discrimination directive

Tony Grew April 2, 2008
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A British Member of the European Parliament has spoken of his concerns that there is a lack of commitment to gay rights from the European Commission President Jose Manuel Borroso.

Michael Cashman, who represents the West Midlands, has voiced his concern over reports that the Commission is backtracking on its commitment to tackle discrimination.

“At the beginning of this Commission’s mandate, Barroso gave the Parliament assurances that it would bring forward a Directive to combat discrimination on the remaining grounds of Article 13,” said Mr Cashman.

“Indeed it was announced in the Commission’s work programme for 2008.”

EU Article 13 Race and Employment Directives require EU member states to introduce legislation to outlaw unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability and age in the fields of employment and training.

The directive also applies to areas such as education and goods and services.

“Now there seems to be a lack of commitment,” said Mr Cashman.

“The European Parliament must be informed.

“If this issue is not properly resolved it could well become a European election platform and one on which any new Parliament would judge a new Commission and any new candidate for President of the Commission.”

Mr Barroso is reported to have told members of the MEP’s Women’s Committee that the discrimination directive will not cover discrimination on the grounds of age, religion and sexual orientation.

EU directives are legislation that requires member states to, for example, deal with discrimination, but leaves it up to the states to decide on the best course of action to take.

Mr Cashman is a Labour MEP. He leads the European Parliament’s LGBT Inter-Group.

“This issue is extremely serious, especially as we see intolerance and discrimination on the rise in the European Union,” he said.

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