In an attempt to appease Poland and Hungary’s opposition to LGBT+ rights, Austria deleted references to LGBT+ people in an EU declaration in order to secure Polish and Hungarian support.
Hungary and Poland have long opposed the inclusion of gay rights in EU equality policy, and the Austrian EU presidency has now replaced direct references to LGBT+ rights with references to “sexual orientation” in a new official declaration.
On Thursday, 19 EU member states, including Ireland, backed a separate Maltese initiative to show their support for European Commission action on LGBT+ rights.
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty attended a meeting of the social affairs council where ministers debated the watered-down declaration, confirming Ireland’s stance on LGBT+ rights in the European Union:
“As the first country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage through a popular vote, Ireland has been in the vanguard of promoting equal rights for the LGBTIQ community.”
“However, we can’t be too complacent, and more effort needs to be done to address the marginalisation and wellbeing of LGBTIQ persons and to ensure that vulnerable groups are not left behind,” she added.
The original version of the declaration, which addressed “gender equality, youth and digitalisation”, listed, “young people of low socio-economic status, young people from ethnic minorities including Roma, young persons with disabilities, young people in rural areas, young people with a migrant background and young LGBTIQ persons” as people who need protection.
While the revised version proposed by the Austrian presidency refers to “sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation” and has no mention of ‘gender equality’ or ‘LGBT+’.
Ministers argued that Poland and Hungary were attacking values that are at the core of the European Union by opposing direct references to LGBT+ rights.
In a similar incident in October, Poland objected to the inclusion of a section on LGBT+ rights in Europe’s Fundamental Rights Charter.
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