EU framework for tackling racism could lead to recognition of homophobic crime

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The new Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia has been adopted by the European Council of Ministers, exactly seven years after it was first presented by the European Commission.

Five important legislative instruments were adopted without discussion by the Justice and Home Affairs Council at its last meeting under the French Presidency last week:

– a framework decision to combat racism and xenophobia,
– a framework decision on the protection of personal data processes in the framework of police and judicial criminal cooperation,
– a framework decision on mutual recognition in probation matters,
– a framework decision on the amendment of the definition of terrorism, and,
– a framework decision on mutual recognition of judgments in criminal matters.

The Framework Decision on racism is the first step towards a possible recognition of a range of crimes that impact on other vulnerable social groups, such as the LGBT community and the disabled, which are not currently encompassed under the Framework Decision, according to the EU Agency Fundamental Rights (FRA).

The FRA said it will continue to monitor the situation in the EU with respect to intolerance and crime on the grounds of racism and xenophobia, as well as on other grounds.

It produced a recent study,  “Homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States Part I – legal analysis”, that highlighted the fact that not all discrimination grounds benefit from the same level of legal protection in the EU.

The report concluded that greater legislative protection and wider support within the EU is required for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans citizens.

It also said that the rights and advantages of married couples should be extended to same-sex partnerships, including those benefits for spouses and partners related to free movement and family reunification.

Before France relinquishes the Presidency of the European Union at the end of this month it will present a declaration to the UN, backed by all EU nations, calling for a universal decriminalisation of homsexuality.