LGBT – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:23:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.12 Croatian referendum to introduce discrimination in their constitution /croatian-referendum-to-introduce-discrimination-in-their-constitution/ /croatian-referendum-to-introduce-discrimination-in-their-constitution/#comments Sun, 01 Dec 2013 09:10:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=817 Croatia, the newest member of the EU, is today having a referendum that aims to modify their constitution for the first time in 22 years. The change in constitution is to include a sentence that specifies that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. and it is a clear attack to the movement for equal marriage that has been gaining battles all over Europe.

This referendum is the last step of a whole campaign launched by an NGO created ad hoc by a woman called Zeljka Markic, which is the visible face of this initiative. In fact she is the only visible face, while the rest is as obscure as they can. After some research, it has been revealed that the most reactionary groups of the Catholic church are behind this initiative.

Zeljka Markic speaking in front of cameras

The movement called themselves “in the name of the family”, mirroring similar groups that tried to block equal marriage in countries like Spain and France, and managed to gather a small army of volunteers to collect 740.000 signatures to force the government to call for this referendum.

The question that is asked in the referendum is:

Are you in favor of implementing into the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia a regulation that marriage is a life community between man and a woman?

The referendum takes place today, Dec 1st, and the campaign preceding the voting has been really harsh, using manipulative messages to convince people to vote in favour. Moreover, the opposition parties are using this issue to erode the government, which is against this reform. Public personalities from fields such as sports, culture or arts, have also positioned themselves.

The expected result of the referendum will be in favour, therefore including the sentence in the Constitution and blocking the possibility of equal marriage in Croatia. This could be changed if the traditional lack of participation of young people is reverted. If you are Croatian, I would like to quote Zeljka Markic, since she finishes every of her speeches with: “Join us on Sunday to celebrate together the festival of democracy!”: So move your ass, go and vote! You can still avoid staining your constitution with such a discriminatory sentence!

Written by Miguel Gallardo, Project Director of AEGEE-Europe

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Fighting Homophobia is fighting for Europe /fighting-homophobia-is-fighting-for-europe/ /fighting-homophobia-is-fighting-for-europe/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 20:37:15 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=622 Today AEGEE was invited by the Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker for a conference that was part of a whole programme centered around IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia). We participated in the presentation of a thorough EU LGBT Survey conducted by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) which shows the situation of different aspects of LGBT discrimination in the EU27+Cratia. A very worrying picture, showing that high percentages of EU citizens still live in fear, having to become invisible and pretend being a different person to avoid discrimination or violence.

You can see here a video with a summary of the survey (click the image):

 

You can download the report here and see the whole information in the website. And the good news is that the Council of Europe committed to reproduce the survey in the remaining member countries.

After the presentation of the report, there was a round table were representatives from some NGOs (like Evelyne Paradis from ILGA-Europe), and also some ministers. The survey’s results were analyzed and there was a consensus that these shameful numbers are a sign that we are not performing as well as we want to believe, especially regarding legislation to protect the rights of the transgender citizens.  The results of this survey should act as a wake up call for Europe to get back in tack, and the people present in the room urged the EU Commission to lead an urgent action on European Level to change the situation. This action should be a coordinated strategy involving each of the Member States through active legislation, but also with the participation of the justice, the media and the whole civil society, all over the continent.

For closing the conference, the EU Commissioner Viviane Reding took the stage and began her intervention by remarking that Homophobia and Transphobia go against the fundamental core of the European Union (concretely Art. 2 of the Treaty of the EU). Fighting against Homophobia and Transphobia is fighting to defend European values. Furthermore, she highlighted the achievements of the EU Commission in making sure that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is respected across the EU legislation, and also enforcing it in the MS by demanding amendments in the legislation of the Member States. You can download a complete report of how the charter is applied in this report. She also took the opportunity to publicly demand the Member States (and there were several ministers in the room) to commit themselves to legislate in favour of LGBT rights, and to unblock several initiatives in the European Council. She used, as a reason to keep hope, the interministerial declaration that was signed yesterday by ten EU ministers (+ Croatia). Let’s see if there are changes in the future. To close, and in response to the very emotive request of one of the participants of the conference for the EU to do something in other parts of the world where the situation is dramatic and where LGBT people can only hope on external support to change their fearful reality, Viviane Reding reaffirmed the support of the EU to LGBT rights inside and outside the Union, through diplomacy and through strengthening of the civil society.

It was a very interesting conference for AEGEE, showing how closely related are the fight for LGBT rights and the idea of Europe; a motivation to keep the current work in the field and maybe explore possible partnerships for the future. Thanks to the FRA for their great work, reports like this one prove how important role this agency plays in Europe.

And remember: LGBT Rights are Human Rights!

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AEGEE opposes the “Kill the Gays’ bill” in Uganda /kill-gay-bill-uganda-europe/ Mon, 17 Dec 2012 10:44:55 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=333 Recently Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan parliament, announced that the 2009’s anti-homosexuality bill will become a law in Uganda in December 2012. She spoke about passing the bill as a ‘Christmas gift’ to its advocates. While homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda, this law would severely increase the penalties. In terms of the criminalisation of same-sex relationships, the law aimed to make a distinction between two types: ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and ‘offense of homosexuality’. ‘Aggravated homosexuality’, defined as ‘gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, paedophiles and repeat offenders’ would in the proposed law result in death penalty. ‘Same-sex acts or being gay in a relationship’, would be considered ‘offense of homosexuality’, and therefore would be punished by lifelong imprisonment. After Kadaga’s announcement, foreign donors have threatened to cut aid unless Uganda does respect equal rights for gay people. Amongst these donors there are several European countries – the United Kingdom in first place – and the United States. Due to this pressure, several amendments to the proposal were passed, resulting in the committee of Ugandan MP’s dropping the death penalty provision. However, they still endorsed the rest of this anti-homosexuality bill.

Whereas most governments have hitherto been relatively silent, civil society has spoken out with a loud voice. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide signed petitions to stop the ‘kill the gays’ bill’ from passing. However, this is still not enough. Therefore All Out, an organisation that brings together people of  every identity – lesbian, gay, straight, transgender and all that’s between and beyond – to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are, startedthe action Stop the “kill the gays’ bill”. With this action they aim for the whole world to take a stand against the bill, and therewith forcing global leaders to help stop it. They urge everybody to call their foreign affairs office, and tell their country’s official to speak out before it’s too late.

We, AEGEE, want to do the same and call upon the active citizens of Europe, the member states and the European institutions, to take a stand and stop this bill from passing.

As a reminder, when talking about LGBTQI rights, there is still a lot to fight for. Only twelve countries worldwide recognise and perform same-sex marriages and only fourteen countries worldwide recognise the right for adoption for LGBTQI-parents. The situation in Uganda is not an exception! Join the fight for justice and take a stand against the “kill the gays’ bill”, and strive for equal love worldwide!

Submitted by Eline de Graaf, Policy Officer for Social Inclusion on LGBT issues

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Three steps back for LGBT rights in Europe /lgbt-october2012/ Tue, 09 Oct 2012 20:44:50 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=165 The first week of October has seen a succession of worrying news for LGBT rights in Europe. AEGEE is very much concerned about the rights of LGBT people, because it is often youth who is the target of this violation of rights, it is students who are bullied at schools and universities, it is young gay people who are facing rejection when looking for a job. We want to show our concern for these violations, and we demand the European Institutions to take a more active role in spreading our values of tolerance and respect for diversity inside the EU and the neighbouring countries, using all the resources that are available.

Troublesome news are coming from Ukraine. In spite of the international pressure, some conservative members of the Ukrainan parliament have finally passed the bill #8711 for a first read. In case this bill is approved, it will lead to effective censorship, through the criminalisation of all references to homosexuality in the media (punished with fines or prison sentences of up to 5 years). This will create impunity for all discrimination of gay people, as denouncing the violations of the recently approved anti-discrimination law would be considered a crime. The bill will have to continue its legal steps in the Parliament, to be voted upon after the elections that will take place later this month. The UN has raised its voice against the law, and the EP considers this proposal to be a pre-elections populistic strategy of some conservative politicians. Sophie in ‘t Veld, Vice-President of the LGBT EP Intergroup, added: “Rather than moving closer to Europe, Ukraine is taking a giant step away from Europe and its values”. Some member states stated that this type of decisions may imply that Ukraine’s visa-free travel agreement with the EU would be put on hold indefinitely. On the positive side, we can see some positive reactions in Ukrainian politicians: the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn, has shown concerns about this law, although he has not stopped the procedures yet. President Viktor Yanukovych has also refused to say whether he will sign the bill into law.

(photo by zio paolino)

Balloons were banned because of "risk of extreme violence" in Belgrade

Serbia, another country who aspires to join the EU, has again failedto guarantee the rights of the LGBT community. For the second year in a row, the Gay Parade has been banned; it was to be celebrated on Saturday Oct 6th. Three MEPs had confirmed their attendance to this year’s Belgrade Pride: Marije Cornelissen, Jelko Kacin and Keith Taylor. The European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström made a very true statement on her blog regarding the Gay Parade in Belgrade: “Love, Faith and Hope is the motto, but when I think of the organizers and the LGBT people living in Belgrade, I also think of courage”. The organizers had been working for months, with little support from the institutions, and they received notification that it was banned less than a week before the event. The government alleged “safety concerns” due to high risk of violent acts. According to Jelko Kacin, European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, this decision is merely political, as Serbian police are professional and capable enough of ensuring public law and order. This has been shown every time Serbia hosts high risk sport events like football matches. Navi Pillay,UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urges the Serbian government to reschedule the Pride celebration and to make sure that the freedom of expression and assembly are protected.

Are LGBT asylum seekers really welcome in UK?

Inside the EU, there is sometimes the false feeling that the battle for gay rights is already won. It then requires the decision of a judge, the declaration of a politician, or the behaviour of a single person to wake us up  from this dream. This week the victim is Olalekan M. Ayelokun, a young Nigerian nurse living in the UK for ten years. He fears death upon arrival, as he is being sent back to his country. His demand for asylum based on sexual orientation has been rejected by the British Home Office, using the traditional argument that his claims to be gay are not genuine. He was supposed to be deported last week, and just some technical problems allowed him to stay some more days, gaining extra time for the civil society to stop the process. The gay community of the United Kingdom has launched a campaign to demand that the UK fulfills its compromise with Human Rights, no excuses. The UK Prime Minister Cameron stated in 2010 ‘those Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK’; it is time to stand behind his words, and make sure that no gay person is sent back to countries where he or she would  be prosecuted for the mere fact of his sexual orientation. When talking about LGBT rights, we should not forget that only twelve countries worldwide recognise and perform same-sex marriage and only fourteen countries worldwide recognise LGBT-parents the right for adoption. Even if most of these countries are in Europe, we should not forget that they are still exceptions in our continent, and that in the large majority of the world, traditions, religious conceptions and state law prevents citizens from living the life they want and deserve. There is still a lot to fight for when it comes to LGBT rights, but we cannot do this alone.  Therefore we the members of AEGEE call upon you, active citizens and European institutions, to join us in this fight for justice.

 

Written by Eline de Graaf & Miguel Gallardo Albajar

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