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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 27
Germany blocking European Equality Directive, Euro Parliament VP says
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Germany blocking European Equality Directive, Euro Parliament VP says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

European heads of government - and particularly Germany's - are blocking adoption of the European Equality Directive, the openly Lesbian vice president of Europe's parliament charged on June 29.

If adopted, the Equality Directive would give Lesbians, Gay men, and Bisexuals - as well as other groups like disabled people, religious minorities, and seniors - the same anti-discrimination protections currently on offer across Europe on the basis of race.

Transgender and Intersex men and women are protected under a gender equality directive that has passed the EU - although the rules are not always fully applied.

Euro parliament vice president Ulrike Lunacek told business leaders at a Pride lunch in London that the new law would help LGBTI people in her own country, Austria.

'In my home town of Vienna in January, in one of these old, traditional, beautiful caf├ęs, two lesbians were thrown out because they kissed,' she reported.

'They cannot go to the courts because of being discriminated against like that. Two straight, black people, thrown out because of kissing like that, could go to the courts because of discrimination.

'That's why we need this Equality Directive.'

She also called on the EU to adopt a 'roadmap' on LGBTI rights.

The Equality Directive was first introduced by the European Commission, the body that proposes European Union laws, in 2008.

The European Parliament passed it easily. But since 2009 it has been sitting in the European Council - made up of Europe's heads of state and government. The EU's prime ministers and presidents have been haggling over the details but can't agree. All must agree unanimously before the Equality Directive can go into effect.

Germany is reported to be the biggest block on progress. Similar protections have existed in German law since 2006, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel head an increasingly fragile coalition government and is said to be afraid of alienating conservative members of her own party.

In May Merkel ruled out same-sex marriage legislation, in a move widely believed to be a concession to her most right-wing supporters.

Lunacek, who is also the co-President of the European Parliament's LGBT Intergroup, told the business leaders in London that the EU could not force member states to offer same-sex marriage.

But, 'we can push for non-discrimination, for making gay and lesbian people more visible, and we can push for people being less afraid,' she said.

She called on them to support both the Equality Directive and marriage equality, and to use their influence with their own governments to lobby for change.

'This is something also important in the business world,' she said.

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