Malta’s LGBTI+ Rights Movement, MGRM, have celebrated the European Parliament’s successful vote on declaring the European Union an LGBTI+ Freedom Zone.
The resolution was adopted this week 72% in favour and comes after the governments of Hungary and Poland have made political moves to oppress the LGBTI+ community.
In Poland, members of the LGBTI+ community have faced rising discrimination, attacks and growing hate speech from public authorities who have also introduced “LGBTI+ Free Zones” around the country.
Meanwhile, Hungary’s parliament has been responsible for the adoption of constitutional amendments that have further restricted the rights of LGBTI+ people and have also refused to acknowledge the existence of transgender and non-binary people – instead further limiting their right to family life.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, MGRM has hailed the vote as a hopeful start to “unequivocal support to the LGBTIQ communities throughout the European Union”.
Regarding Malta’s MEPs, who all voted in favour of the declaration, MGRM especially stated their pride for Cyrus Engerer, who acted as one of the main negotiators and driving forces towards the passing of this resolution.
However, MGRM highlighted the importance of why such a resolution is so important in the first place stating it follows several incidents in Poland and Hungary that are intended “to oppress the LGBTIQ Community”, including comments by Hungary’s Prime Minister, Victor Orbán.
“Victor Orbán accused the EU of descending into ‘LGBTQ lunacy’ in a letter just last week. Meanwhile, a third of Poland is still declared an ‘LGBT free zone’ legislating in favour of oppression and discrimination.”
Yet, MGRM highlighted that whilst “it is easy to think that this reality is far from home, but it isn’t”. Noting recent statements by PN MP Edwin Vassallo who called those who supported the efforts of Engerer (who is also backed up by EU Commissioner Helena Dalli) as ‘Marxist’.
Highlighting the difference between Malta and Poland though, MGRM noted that “these outbursts have drawn the condemnation of other politicians including some within the same party. Poland Hungary on the other hand, celebrates such declarations”.
Currently, the adoption of this resolution is more symbolic than proper, enforced laws. That is up to the European Commission to properly implement.
However, MGRM has stated that “this vote brings hope to those who are made to feel like they cannot be part of their community without hiding their differences”.
The idea of an LGBTI+ Freedom Zone is intended to be a multi-year strategy and plan, through which monitoring of the progress in each member state could affect what kind of funding they receive from the EU going forwards.
This has already been semi-present through the EU’s decision to refuse grants to six Polish cities last year over their anti-LGBTI+ stance.
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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