Tories and UKIP vote against equality strategy in European Parliament

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

MEPs from the Conservatives and UKIP have voted against an equality report in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament today voted on an equalities report, titled the ‘EU strategy for equality between women and men post 2015’, setting out a number of recommendations on equalities issues.

The motion contained several sections on LGBT rights – including calls for adoption for a separate ‘LGBTI roadmap’, as well as section on same-sex parenting, recognition of people’s gender, and calls for improved sex education programmes in schools.

It stated in part: “[Parliament] calls on the Commission also to develop measures aimed at eliminating discrimination against all women in their diversity under a broader anti-discrimination strategy and a distinctive and separate LGBTI roadmap; to that effect, urges the Council to reach a common position as soon as possible on the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation, which has been blocked since its adoption by Parliament in April 2009”.

The overall motion passed by a vote of 341-281, but the UK’s Conservative and UKIP MEPs either voted against or abstained across a series of votes on the issue, including on the LGBTI roadmap.

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford was the only Tory who broke ranks with the party’s ECR group to vote in favour of parts of the report.

Labour MEP Seb Dance told PinkNews: “People in the UK need to be aware how David Cameron’s MEPs act in Brussels.

“He might have pink washed his governments’ reputation but today’s votes demonstrate ably that just below the surface the Nasty Party is alive and well.

“Not only are they voting against LGBTI rights, but against abortion rights & women’s rights in general. It’s a disgrace.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder told PinkNews: “There is widespread evidence that British couples are frequently discriminated against while on holiday in other EU countries.

“But yet again the Tories and UKIP have failed to stand up for EU legislation that protects LGBT people from discrimination.

“I will continue fighting for an EU LGBTI roadmap that will help combat homophobia and discrimination across Europe.”

Mary Honeyball, Labour MEP for London and spokesperson on women’s rights and equality, told PinkNews: “I am proud to support something as important as an LGBT Road Map and it is particularly important to identify the rights of the LGBT community rather than subsuming it into a broader equality context.

Most of the Tories and UKIP voted against the Noichl report which sets out the EU strategy for equality. This response says a lot about these parties, specifically that they do not wish to be part of a modern, progressive Europe.”

It is not the first time the Tories have opposed equality in European Parliament despite supporting it in the UK.

In March, a number of UKIP and Conservative Members of European Parliament voted against or abstained on a motion praising same-sex marriage, nearly a year after the UK’s first weddings.