Green Party: It’s a great shame so many MEPs didn’t sign an LGBT rights pledge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Green Party MEP Keith Taylor has become the latest politician to criticise UKIP and the Tories for refusing to sign ILGA-Europe’s pledge on LGBT rights.

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

The pledge calls on the European Union to go further in implementing “comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation”, to take action on homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and to offer protection for LGBT asylum seekers.

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.

Mr Taylor, who was among all three Green MEPs to sign the pledge, told “It’s a great shame that so many new MEPs have refused to back the LGBT rights pledge.

“For me an important part of the European Union’s job is defending people’s rights across the continent. It’s all well and good to say you support LGBT rights in principle, but then fail to back action on this vital issue. Discrimination continues to affect LGBT people across the EU, and it needs to be tackled by MEPs from every country.”

Mr Taylor added: “In the next five years I’ll be doing all I can to tackle homophobia and transphobia across the EU. In particular I’ll be working to protect the rights of LGBT asylum seekers and seeking to make the EU a world leader in defending LGBT rights.”

The Conservative Party yesterday defended its decision not to sign the pledge

The Chairman of LGBTory, Colm Howard-Lloyd, said it was because the pledge meant “taking powers away from the UK”, with issues such as equal marriage moving to the European Parliament and away from individual member states.

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

An ILGA spokesperson added: “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.”

But outgoing Tory MEP Marina Yannakoudakis told PinkNews that the concerns expressed by Mr Howard-Lloyd were justified.

Labour MEP-elect Seb Dance and Liberal Democrat MEP-elect Catherine Bearder both said the Conservatives and UKIP had made the wrong decision in not signing the pledge.

UKIP has so far declined to comment to PinkNews.