Tories defend decision of MEPs to shun ILGA-Europe’s LGBT rights pledge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Conservative Party’s LGBT campaign group is defending a decision of Tory MEPs not to sign ILGA-Europe’s pledge on LGBT rights.

Twenty one of the UK’s 73 newly elected MEPs have signed the pledge, which urges Members of the European Parliament to advance LGBT rights over the next five years.

Labour, Sein Fein, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party were all signatories.

But the Conservative Party and UKIP appeared absent from the list.

Defending his party’s decision, Colm Howard-Lloyd, chairman of LGBTory told “ILGA, an NGO funded by the European Commission, have a very specific agenda; a comprehensive approach to LGBT issues at EU-level.

“Many countries (including the UK, Spain and Portugal which have same-sex marriage) and political parties disagree with this as the way to further equality, and believe it should remain a member-state competence.

“We have discussed with ILGA that disagreeing with taking powers away from the UK, is not the same as opposing equality. Conservative MEPs believe in equality, but were unable to sign a pledge that gave just one solution delivered via an expanded and federal Europe.”

In response, ILGA-Europe rejected Mr Howard-Lloyd’s comments, saying “it is wrong to suggest we even address marriage equality in our work at EU level”.

An ILGA-Europe spokesperson told “ILGA-Europe is advocating for comprehensive approach to LGBTI equality indeed. But not by the way of infringing on Member States competences, but rather through enhancing already existing EU competences, using them strategically, effectively and systematically.

“It is wrong to suggest we even address marriage equality in our work at EU level. Family law is clearly within Member States’ competences. What we are calling for is an EU-wide strategy for LGBTI equality, similar to those already existing on gender equality, rights of Roman and people with disabilities.”

The spokesperson added: “The call for such strategy has been consistency supported by the European Parliament, national governments of 13 EU Member States and now also 4 top candidates for the post of the European Commission President.

“The EU LGBTI strategy would enable EU Member States and its institutions to work together, exchange best practices, set legitimate and competent benchmarks and system of measurement of progress.

“It is regrettable that the UK which has such great experience on LGBTI equality does not want to share its experience and help other EU Member States to progress in this field.”