Social Inclusion – 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. Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:02:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.10 NGOs should be further involved on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee /ngos-should-be-further-involved-on-the-implementation-of-the-youth-guarantee/ /ngos-should-be-further-involved-on-the-implementation-of-the-youth-guarantee/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:25:18 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1032 Last week, AEGEE attended the conference “Youth Guarantee: Making It Happen” organised by the European Commission in Brussels. Both Miguel Gallardo (member of the board of AEGEE-Europe) and Mathieu Savary (from the Youth (un)Employment project) participated in the conference, and also on the preparatory meeting “Youth Employment: what next?” organised by the European Youth Forum and the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament the day before.

The conference consisted in a series or panels with key note speakers from the different stakeholders involved on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee: member states and its employment services, regional and local governments, companies, trade unions and the youth sector. We could get updated information on which stage the different member states are now, and what are some of the challenges they are facing.

José Manuel Barroso, at the podium, and László Andor, on the right

AEGEE-Europe is happy to see that the Member States are working hard to implement this innovative approach to reduce the impact of the crisis on Youth Employment as soon as possible. However, if only an ambitious plan is essential to tackle effectively youht unemployment, this conference has shown that we are still far from a fully-fledged and successful implementation of the Youth Guarantee:

 

  • There are still some countries who did not submit the Implementation Plans to the European Commission yet;
  • The money made available from the European Union, through the European Social Fund, is not enough to put into practice an effective Youth Guarantee. Member States should cover the rest without any delay, since the ILO study proved that the costs of inactivity will be higher than the amount to be invested;
  • In most countries, the involvement of the youth sector in the development of the implementation plans has been very limited, and in many cases inexistent. This contradicts the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee, which explicitly mentioned that Member States should “ensure the consultation or involvement of young people and/or youth organisations in designing and further developing the Youth Guarantee scheme”.
  • We encourage all countries to extend the age range of potential beneficiaries to 30 years, to reflect the reality of society and include in the Youth Guarantee those young Europeans who finish their studies in their late twenties.

We believe the Youth Guarantee has a big potential to contribute to the solution of the Youth Unemployment crisis in Europe, but the success of this initiative will depend much on the ownership the Member States take from it. It should not stay a European initiative, but countries and regions have to invest on it and include all actors on the process. The youth sector, through the National Youth Councils and other big youth platforms, can contribute with ideas in development, monitoring and evaluation of the whole scheme, and in the outreach to NEETs (not in education, employment and training), mostly young people far away from the labour market who represent a priority target group of the policy scheme. Overall, NGOs can play a decisive role as a possible placement to put into practice the knowledge acquired through formal education, or gain new skills through methods of non-formal education.

Written by Mathieu Savary, Youth (un)Employment project, and Miguel Gallardo, Project Director of AEGEE-Europe.

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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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Impressions on the EP plenary on Youth Employment /impressions-on-the-ep-plenary-on-youth-employment/ Wed, 11 Sep 2013 06:54:40 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=717 Yesterday the European Parliament held a session dedicated to Youth Unemployment. It was a very interesting session to follow, where almost all voices agreed on some points such as the seriousness of the situation in some of the countries and regions and the need for a strong action from the European Union.

We learned at the very beginning that the Lithuanian Presidency has adopted Social Inclusion of NEETs (youth Not in Education, Employ or Training) as its priority on Youth policy. We in AEGEE celebrate this decision.

Commissioner László Andor began by presenting all the actions taken on the European Level to revert the trend of destruction of jobs. Here, the initiatives included in the Youth Employment Package and developed in the Youth Employment Initiative, were showcased; namely the Youth Guarantee Scheme and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Later interventions however remarked the fact that independent studies have shown the big gap between the necessary funding and the amount allocated from European budget. This was supposed to be covered by countries but it is not certain it will happen, risking the success of these measures.

MEPs more on the left side blamed the conservative parties of being hypocrites for asking for solutions to the problem of youth unemployment, while they are responsible for it (at least partially) through the imposition of austerity measures.

According to many MEPs the solution to the problem of unemployment has to be based in investment. The necessary austerity measures should not apply to areas such as education, entrepreneurship, I+D… which require strong investments to start working full steam again.

Moreover, some MEPs highlighted the risk of placing the young Europeans on a terrible dilemma. The one of having to choose between a badly paid job and no job at all. Moreover, those work-for-free schemes such as internships have become sometimes traps for our youth, and they do not lead to stable jobs after the learning process because another intern covers the same place.

In the end, it was a very interesting plenary because the different speakers showed up that, even on such a critical point of the political agenda, they are divided and there are contradictory positions. Something that young voters will take into account for sure when deciding their vote in the next elections. We in AEGEE will give Employment a great focus in our new project Y Vote 2014, which aims at empowering young people to make an informed choice during the European Parliament elections by undertaking actions both on European and local level.

Time now to follow the State of the European Union plenary. You can follow it here.

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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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Dear Ministers… NOW! /youth-rights-campaign-aegee-europe/ Mon, 06 May 2013 11:41:28 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=607 In September 2012, Ministers responsible for Youth from 47 Member States of the Council of Europe congregated for the Ministerial Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to agree on ensuring equal access to Youth Rights for every single young person in Europe. The aim was to achieve this through the adoption of the Declaration “Young people’s access to rights: Development of innovative youth policies in Europe” which would have served as a guideline to all the Ministers’ work in their respective countries. Some officials, however, had problems with ensuring access to Youth Rights for ALL young people inclusively. Ministers failed to agree on the issue that there should be no discrimination towards people of sexual orientation different from heterosexual, and with recognising other gender identities different from man or woman. In AEGEE we find it truly alarming that this vision came from some Member States of the Council of Europe – the European institution which core values are to uphold Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. Yet, we very much appreciate the fact that several bodies within the Council of Europe indeed did make sure that a proper follow up to the Ministers’ fiasco at the Ministerial Conference will take place.

This year, in April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted two important documents: “Young people’s access to fundamental rights” and “Young Europeans: an urgent educational challenge”. Moreover, one of the recommendations coming to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was to adopt a legally binding document on Youth Rights, a policy document that will recognise and respect Youth Rights in their uniqueness, that European governments can then decide to implement in their countries.

This is where young people are stepping in. Several organisations came together to develop a Youth Rights campaign with three main aims: (1) to raise awareness on the situation of Youth Rights, (2) to make the topic of Youth Rights a priority on political agendas and (3) to strengthen the voice of young people in the Council of Europe Member States and structures.

The organisations starting the campaign:

· European Students’ Forum (AEGEE-Europe)

· Young European Federalists (JEF)

· International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student organisation (IGLYO)

· European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL)

· Youth for Exchange and Understanding (YEU)

· World Esperanto Youth Organisation (TEJO)

· National Youth Council of Portugal (CNJ)

· Flemish National Youth Council (VJR)

· Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU)

Together with a legal advisor – the European Law Student Association (ELSA), and a local youth organisation from Kosovo – MUSE-E. And with the support from the Advisory Council on Youth and the European Youth Forum and with many more organisations to join.

The campaign comes at a very important moment in Europe. Today, Europe is a continent where national governments do not always value the voice of young people in decision making processes. It is a continent where governments are continuously making financial cuts influencing young people’s welfare drastically in a very negative way. It is a place where youth organisations are not recognised and are often not given proper support. As the Ministerial Conference showed, it is also a place where young people cannot be guaranteed safety and inclusion.

This is why we are calling for action through a campaign called “Youth Rights. NOW!”: a campaign that aims to mobilise young people to fight for our rights and influence decision makers to put this matter high on their agendas. From 25th to 28th April, the campaign took the first steps, but it will take time to implement all the steps planned, gain finances and provide other prerequisites to set up the campaign.

Nonetheless, the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe will mobilise its members to initiate a dialogue with national decision makers and to start a process of recognition and respect of our Youth Rights! We call also for other youth organisations to join the campaign and to mobilise their members. Finally, we call on policy makers – Youth and Education Ministers, Foreign Affairs Ministers (members of the Committee of Ministers of CoE) and Ambassadors accredited to the Council of Europe, each in their own capacity – to team up with young people and use our ideas and their power to make Europe youth-friendly, NOW!

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The Youth Guarantee momentum /youth-guarantee-momentum-jobs-europe-ep/ Fri, 18 Jan 2013 11:18:34 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=358 AEGEE-Europe is pleased to hear that the European Parliament voted yesterday a resolution which should encourage the Members States to implement the Youth Guarantee in their country. More exactly, the Resolution calls on Member States to introduce their own youth guarantee scheme and advocates for 25% of the European Social Fund to be used to finance the mechanism.

This resolution synergies the efforts of the European Commission to tackle the thorny issue of youth unemployment, which has raised to 25 millions of youth unemployed in Europe. AEGEE-Europe hopes Member States’ ministers for employment and social affairs will reach an agreement during the  Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) Council in February 2013 and issue a recommendation to convince the Member States that the Youth Guarantee scheme should be adopted all over the EU as one of the main tools to fight Youth Unemployment. AEGEE-Europe urges Members States to use the tools which are put at their disposal by the European Union, and to become proactive in dealing with the unemployment of young people and implement the Youth Guarantee in the short term, without dropping any other national initiatives that may have been put in place.

MEP Pervenche Berès mentioned at the introduction of the EP Resolution that Youth is not an homogenous group; therefore a needs analysis will have to be conducted in order to be able to propose tailored and efficient solutions. AEGEE would like to improve the Youth Guarantee scheme, making it sure that it is extended beyond the age of 25, since the studying period nowadays can extend well beyond this age depending on the different paths offered to students. Limiting the youth guarantee to young people up to 25 years old would only partially address the problem.
We also want to raise our voice to communicate our concerns: special effort has to be taken to make sure that the companies join the Youth Guarantee scheme, because their collaboration is necessary to make it happen. A common dialogue has to be established among governments (national, regional and local), all sectors of economy and the young people, in order to develop the scheme, and to have it adapted to the reality of each country. The role of National Youth Councils (NYCs) and Youth organizations in the drafting, implementation and evaluation phases of the Youth Guarantee scheme is crucial to achieve the aimed objectives.
AEGEE calls finally for the inclusion of strict control mechanisms to prevent that this solution for Youth Unemployment is misused and perverted into a way to obtain cheap labour force through precarious job offers, unpaid internships or low quality education opportunities.

Written by the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe

 

 

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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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Welcoming the European Youth Guarantee /youth-guarantee-unemployment-solution/ Wed, 12 Dec 2012 07:35:02 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=311 One week ago, on Wednesday Dec 5th, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Mr László Andor, presented a new package of measures against unemployment. The job market is severely affected by the crisis, and the situation gets worse every month. We stand now at alarmingly high youth unemployment rates in Europe: an average 23% in the European Union, and in some countries like Spain and Greece, over 50%. It is true that youth unemployment was an endemic problem in many regions in Europe but the situation is derailed now, and this has moved the European Commission (EC) to finally include in the proposed measures the idea that has been advocated for by the European Youth Forum and other youth NGOs in Brussels for more than a year: to adapt to the European scale, the youth guarantee scheme that has worked quite well in some countries like Austria, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

But what is exactly the European Youth Guarantee? It is the compromise to offer to young Europeans under 25 a traineeship or an opportunity to continue in education, within four months after they get unemployed. This tackles specifically the problem of social exclusion that long term unemployment can bring to people. The aim is to reverse the current trend of rising numbers of NEETs (stands for Not in Education, Employment or Training). The low rates of unemployment in the countries that already have set up this scheme are promising.

However, we in AEGEE see that this scheme raises some concerns that have to be taken into account, as it came up during the online discussion that Commissioner Mr. Andor held with young citizens on Friday. For instance: how can the European Commission enforce such a measure when they have no decision power on education policies? One of the possibilities is through the budget control systems put in place recently, especially for countries which have received economical support from EU.

Talking about money, the big question will be where to get all that money from (estimated costs around 4.000 – 6.000 euros per person, depending on the country). Ideally the Member States would be funding the scheme, but the European Commission pointed at the European Social Fund as an opportunity to get support. This Fund contains 76.000 million Euros for the period 2007-13. As the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework is still not agreed upon, the final number for the next seven years is still on air, and we can just hope it is not reduced.

Another concern for AEGEE is the risk that these employments and internships will end up being a source of cheap labour force for companies, affecting salaries and having a backfire effect. The implementation of the Youth Guarantee will require a brave collaboration from companies, and it should be monitored to prevent the misuse of the scheme and the proliferation of unstable or low-waged jobs, unpaid traineeships, and other forms ways to undervalue the work of young people.

What we want the EU Member States to take into account: the cost of implementing the Youth Guarantee (estimated by the ILO – International Labour Organization – in 0.2% of European combined GDP) will be small compared with the costs of not tackling the problem once and for all. A recent study by the European Policy Centre estimated that achieving the EU’s 75% employment rate target by 2020 would generate up to €1.2 trillion in extra revenues for EU Member States (7% of GDP). We hope this are strong enough numbers to convince the European Council to adopt the EC Recommendation as soon as possible. Ideally it should be approved in the Council of Feb 28th, 2013 and should start to work in 2014. And it is already late.

There were other measures included in the package presented by the European Commission, like advances in the Quality Assurance for Internships, or the setting up of a European Alliance for Apprenticeships. But none of them can compare with the potential impact of the Youth Guarantee. This is what the youth sector had been demanding: strong, brave decisions. Now AEGEE calls for the Member States to accept the challenge and approve in the Council its implementation.

Written by the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe

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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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