Maltese MEPs have led the chorus of voices calling for LGBTI+ freedom and rights to be respected. This comes as MEPs debate a motion in European Parliament that could make the entire EU declared an LGBTI+ Freedom Zone.
The discussion comes in response to large anti-LGBTI+ sentiments shown in several EU states, including Poland and Hungary.
Vice-President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, declared in her opening statements that “this is your Europe too”.
“We are here today to tell abusers both off and online that you will not find safe haven here”, Metsola said in a hard-hitting speech, calling for better legal protections for victims of abuse and other hate crimes.
Addressing the situation in Poland directly, the Vice-President called out to all Polish people, stating: “Europe stands for freedom. Freedom to live as you wish to live. Freedom to be who you wish to be. Freedom to love who you wish to love.”
“And that there is not one State, not one town, not one village, in our Union where this freedom will not be defended. This is who we are. This is a freedom zone.”
Meanwhile, MEP Cyrus Engerer, who recently was appointed as the Socialists and Democrats’ lead negotiator on the motion, highlighted that “Europe means the guarantee of fundamental human rights” and a place were “all of us [live] together irrespective of our differences”.
“Every single person throughout our Union should be able to live their lives with equal rights irrespective of the way they were born.”
Denouncing the statements made by the leader of Poland and Hungary, Engerer declared that “whether we are trans, straight or gay, we are here to stay”.
Engerer also promised that no one, no matter who they may be, would be able to ever make the LGBTI+ community “invisible again”.
In her own opening remarks, Commissioner Helena Dalli dedicated her speech to her grandson, Benjamin, who was born two hours prior to the session.
Dalli declared her hopes that her grandson would be able to “live in a Europe where you will have the best chance in life to be all you can be.”
Though noting that currently, the idea of Europe as an LGBTI+ Freedom zone “is not a reality”, she declared that together “we will get there”. She also denounced the fact that countless LGBTI+ people across Europe face scapegoating and discrimination by public figures, religious leaders and even political leaders.
“The EU must be a freedom zone for all of us, without question.”
By making the European Union a freedom zone, Dalli raised her belief that this could all become a reality over the course of a five-year strategy plan. In such a plan, EU laws and funding would be greatly influenced by how each member state progresses under the new initiative.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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