MEP fears Brexit will set back LGBT equality

Austrian Euro MP, Ulrike Lunacek, has said she fears a UK exit from the European Union would set back equality for the remaining member states.

Speaking at The Economist’s Pride and Prejudice event in London yesterday (March 3), Ms Lunacek said she would “really like” the UK to stay in the multinational organisation.

“The UK at the moment and for a number of years has been a leading figure,” she told attendees.

“I mean to have a Conservative government who have introduce gay marriage, in Austria we just couldn’t imagine that.”

Speaking about developments the UK has made to LGBT equality in the EU, the openly gay politician said if Britain was to go it would be bad for LGBT people on both sides.

She said: “It might be the case that a government in the future repeal anti-discrimination laws, but as an EU member you have to have them.

“There is also things like the victims rights directive that ensures when an LGBT person is interviewed by police, the staff are professionally trained.”

When discussing the impact ‘Brexit’ could have on the rest of Europe, Ms Lunacek – who is a vice-president of the European parliament and chairs the LGBT group – added that Britain plays an “important part” in promoting equality and foreign affairs.

“The EU and other organisations that the UK are in touch with wouldn’t take LGBT issues as seriously. This would weaken the EU,” she said when asked about why Britain should stay.

“I really want you to stay.”

Hitting out at the UK Government, she said she was  “really annoyed” when it would “water down” European legislation.

She said: “I get really annoyed with the UK Government because you work on something together and they water it down.

“Then they’ll say no, but we’ll opt out. This is not something that you do because if you agree to participate then don’t what’s the point in participating in the first place.”

She also said that being a member of the EU required the UK to stay a member of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and leaving could put this at risk for British citizens.

The in-out referendum on EU membership takes place on June 23, after David Cameron negotiated a number of changes to the country’s terms.

This week, a group was formed to argue the LGBT reason for leaving the organisation.