Potential new EU member states told to improve gay and trans laws

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Last week, the European Parliament adopted its annual enlargement progress reports for Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. All the resolutions recommended greater protection for gay, bi and transgender citizens in the potential new member states.

Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro are official candidates to join the EU, and Kosovo is currently considered a potential candidate.

Turkey is still being urged “to ensure that equality, regardless of gender, gender identity, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, is guaranteed by the law and effectively enforced, including respect by the police”.

The Parliament also asked that homophobia and transphobia be included in hate crime law, condemned prosecutions against LGBT people and asked that Turkish Armed Forces cease to classify homosexuality as a ‘psychosexual illness’.

The resolution on Serbia includes extensive references to LGBT rights. Notably, the Parliament expresses serious concern about “the lack of political will […] to ensure the safety of the participants of the Pride Parade” in 2011 which was cancelled by police.

It also “strongly condemns inflammatory and discriminatory remarks on the topic by some politicians and members of the Orthodox clergy.”

Jelko Kacin MEP, Rapporteur for the accession of Serbia and member of the LGBT Intergroup, said: “We will continue to encourage the authorities in Belgrade to make sure that the next trip of an MEP to the Belgrade Pride will not only be to a press conference, like mine was last year. LGBT rights should be respected throughout the year, and the first convictions for hate violence set an important precedent.”

The resolution on Montenegro, however, highlights positive developments in the country, and “welcomes the recent adoption of the Law Against Discrimination, which explicitly mentions sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Finally, the resolution on Kosovo says that “discrimination is still a serious problem in the country, and calls on the Government to implement a broad anti-discrimination strategy” on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Rapporteur for the integration process of Kosovo and Co-president of the LGBT Intergroup at the European Parliament, added: “These accession reports show the European Union is more committed than ever to the respect of fundamental rights, regardless of people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Now the Commission must take note of these recommendations, and closely monitor developments for LGBT rights in 2012.

“In the European Parliament and especially the LGBT Intergroup we will follow developments, and insist that progress is essential for LGBT people to be able to live their lives and loves without fear.”