The European Parliament has today overwhelmingly approved a new European Union ‘LGBT roadmap’ to help tackle widespread discrimination against the gay community across Europe.
The Lunacek report calls for:
• Legislation to prohibit incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity
• Proposals for the mutual recognition of documents across the EU to reduce barriers on same-sex couples in exercising their right to freedom of movement
• The monitoring of equal treatment in employment, with 1 in 5 LGBT people feeling they were discriminated against at work or when looking for a job
• Protection of LGBT freedom of expression.
While Liberal Democrat MEPs strongly supported these measures to tackle LGBT discrimination, Conservative and UKIP MEPs abstained.
Liberal Democrat MEP for London & vice-president of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Sarah Ludford said:
“With half of LGBT people in Europe subject to some form of discrimination, urgent action is needed to ensure the gay community is protected. As a Liberal Democrat, I want to see equal treatment become the norm across Europe.”
“The roadmap is not about giving the LGBT community special privileges. It’s simply a recognition that existing rights applicable to everyone are not being properly enforced for LGBT people.”
“It’s a disgrace that Conservative MEPs failed to support action to tackle LGBT discrimination, following in the footsteps of their ideological bedfellows UKIP. While UKIP and the Tories continue to ignore the injustices that LGBT citizens face, Liberal Democrat MEPs will keep putting gay rights, as part of human rights, a core focus of our work in the European Parliament.”
MEPs on the European Parliament LIBE committee yesterday approved a report by Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford calling for major changes to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), including the introduction of a human rights’ clause to prevent miscarriages of justice and a proportionality test to prevent the warrant being used for petty crimes.
The report calls for the European Commission to come forward with legislative proposals to reform the EAW at the EU level.
Sarah Ludford said:
“I’m delighted that reform of the European Arrest Warrant is now one step closer after my report was approved by the LIBE committee. The warrant needs to be used not only effectively but proportionately, with guarantees that safeguards are respected and human rights are not abused in the process. This will help prevent miscarriages of justice in the future.”
“My report seeks to achieve this reform with EU-wide support, rather than ad hoc and uncoordinated action by individual member states which would fail to deliver real justice for European citizens.”
“The Euro-warrant will remain a crucial crime-fighting tool, delivering swift justice compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures, ensuring that criminals cannot escape the long arm of the law by crossing into another European country. With the reforms I and my MEP colleagues are calling for – and we expect the Commission to act on – all our citizens will be able to have full confidence in its fairness as well as its effectiveness.”
Notes to Editors
The report will be voted on by all MEPs in plenary in February.
A list of case studies of miscarriages of justice arising through use of the European Arrest Warrant can be found on the Fair Trials international website here.
London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forrest are among those who have been brought to justice to the UK thanks to the EAW.
The European Parliament has approved the text of a new EU Directive to guarantee all suspects and accused persons the right to have a lawyer so that they are able to defend themselves and have a fair trial wherever they are in the EU.
Although the right of defence for anyone suspected of a crime is widely recognised as a basic element of a fair trial, the conditions under which suspects may consult a lawyer differ among Member States. Continue reading
Liberal Democrat MEP and European spokeswoman on justice and home affairs Sarah Ludford has welcomed the news that Conservative plans to opt out of key EU crime-fighting measures have been blocked by Liberal Democrats in coalition government.
Earlier today, following prolonged negotiations within the coalition, Theresa May announced that the government will be opting back in to 35 of the 136 pre-2009 EU police and judicial cooperation measures, including all those deemed vital by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Sarah Ludford commented:
“The Tories are now so blinded by their anti-EU ideology that they have become soft on crime. They were proposing to abandon key European crime-fighting measures which leading law enforcement figures have repeatedly warned are vital for Britain’s national security. 21st century criminal gangs do not stop at our borders. Neither should our efforts to pursue them and bring them to justice.” Continue reading
Appearing before MEPs, European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, responsible for data protection, has failed to confirm that she would positively support the reinsertion in the draft new EU data protection law of an ‘anti-FISA’ clause as called for by MEPs, including ALDE shadow rapporteur Sarah Ludford.
Sarah Ludford wants to ensure that EU customers are shielded from US National Security Agency data-mining authorised by the Patriot Act and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, such as the recently revealed ‘PRISM’ programme. But before the draft EU privacy law was published, Viviane Reding and her colleagues caved in to American pressure and dropped a clause that would have ensured no snooping decision by a foreign tribunal would be recognised unless regulated by an international agreement.
Sarah Ludford said: Continue reading
On Thursday MEPs in Strasbourg are set to adopt their recommendations for the forthcoming EU-US free trade negotiations.
The EU and US together represent about half (47%) of the global economy and 30% of global trade. According to government figures, a free trade agreement between these economic powerhouses could be worth between £4-10bn a year to the UK economy.
South East MEP Catherine Bearder, the Liberal Democrat European spokesperson on trade, commented ahead of tomorrow’s historic vote:
“An EU-US trade deal would open up and increase economic activity on both sides of the Atlantic. Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament and in government in the UK are concentrating our efforts on pushing for a speedy conclusion of negotiations to strengthen the European economy and bring new private sector jobs into the UK.” Continue reading
Liberal Democrat MEPs have welcomed the launch of negotiations over a comprehensive trade deal between the EU and US earlier today.
Sarah Ludford MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s US Delegation, commented:
“The US is the EU’s most important trading partner and a hugely valuable economic partner for Britain. A transatlantic free trade deal will give a great boost to jobs and growth in both EU and the US. With such benefits on offer, this is hardly the time for the UK to exclude itself from EU leadership.” Continue reading
Tory peer and donor Lord Ashcroft, chairman of Crimestoppers, has been warned that his charity’s new campaign to catch the UK’s most serious criminals hiding abroad will be doomed if the UK pulls out of essential European police cooperation measures as demanded by 102 backbench Tory MPs.
Under the new project ‘Operation Zygos’, Crimestoppers is appealing for information from Cypriots and the expat community on the whereabouts of nine individuals wanted under UK-issued European Arrest Warrants for serious crimes committed in the UK, including rape, child sex assault, drug dealing and serious fraud.
However, the success of the campaign is at risk from 102 Conservative MPs who have called on the UK Government to withdraw from European police cooperation measures despite senior former UK police and security chiefs pleading with David Cameron and Nick Clegg that the UK should stay involved in measures like the Euro-warrant.
Commenting, senior Liberal Democrat MEP, Sarah Ludford, the party’s European Justice and Home Affairs spokeswoman, said: Continue reading