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Justice and home affairs - 15-06-2006 - 13:24
MEPs adopt resolution on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe
In adopting a joint resolution from the PES, ALDE, Greens and GUE/NGL political groups, by 301 in favour to 161 against with 102 abstentions, Parliament deplores the fact that the Council has been unable to adopt the 2001 Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia.
MEPs urgently call on the future Finnish Presidency of the Council to the restart the work on it and on the Council to reach an agreement on explicitly extending it to homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other types of offences motivated by phobia or hatred based on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion or other irrational grounds.
MEPs urge all the Member States to effectively implement the anti-discrimination directives and the Commission to bring before the Court of Justice those Member States which fail to do so, and to submit before mid-2007 new legislative tools incorporating all the grounds for discrimination set out in Article 13 of the EC Treaty and having the same scope as Directive 2000/43/EC.
The House strongly condemns all racist attacks, and expresses its solidarity with all victims of such attacks and their families, including:
– the premeditated murder of a black woman of Malian nationality and the Belgian child of whom she was the nurse, perpetrated in Antwerp on 12 May 2006 by a young Belgian right-wing extremist, this same person having a few moments earlier seriously wounded a woman of Turkish origin while trying to kill her;
– the murder of a 16-year-old boy in January 2006 and of a 17-year old boy in April 2006 in Brussels, expressing its indignation at some of the media coverage of these murders, which at times led to unfounded criminalisation of whole communities in the eyes of the general public;
– the rape, torture and assassination of Ilan Halimi in February 2006 in France by a gang of 22 persons of different origins, expressing its deep concern at the anti-Semitic dimension of this crime;
– the assassination of Chaïb Zehaf in March 2006 in France due to his ethnic origin;
– the brutal assault on a German citizen of Ethiopian origin, Kevin K., in the village of Poemmelte, Saxony-Anhalt, on 9 January 2006, in particular because of its racial motive;
– the horrific torture and murder of Gisberta, a transsexual living in the Portuguese city of Oporto, in February 2006, by a group of adolescent and pre-adolescent minors, urging the Portuguese authorities to do everything in their power to punish those responsible and fight the climate of impunity with respect to this and other hate crimes;
– the attack against Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, which took place in Warsaw, as well as the declarations by a leading member of the League of Polish Families inciting violence against GLBT people with a view to the march for tolerance and equality;
- the increase in the number of racist attacks, calls and chants by fans with neo-Nazi allegiances in football stadiums;
MEPs call on the EU representatives at the upcoming G8 Summit to raise the issue of human rights with Russia as a matter of urgency, in particular the right to demonstrate peacefully. The House also calls on the institutions of the European Union, the Member States and all European democratic political parties to condemn all acts of intolerance and of incitement to racial hatred, as well as all acts of harassment or racist violence.
The House calls on the Member States to give proper attention to the fight against racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia both in their relations with each other and in their bilateral relations with third countries. MEPs will call on the Commission to continue developing an anti-discrimination policy alongside its emerging policy on integration.
Parliament stresses the need to support anti-racist and anti-xenophobic initiatives in relation to the current World Cup in Germany, and asks authorities to closely monitor, prosecute and condemn those responsible for racist acts.
Debate on Wednesday, 14 June 2006
The European Parliament debated the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe. Many MEPs pointed to the increase of violence in some Member States and pointed to the joint resolution to be adopted on Thursday 15 June 2006.
Hans WINKLER, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that the Presidency gave particular importance to the combating of discrimination. The entire security of the EU was threatened and undermined by such violence and discrimination and it needed to be addressed urgently.
He recalled that since the Amsterdam Treaty entered into force, the EU had adopted anti discrimination/ equal opportunities legislation which was passed in 2000. Discrimination on the grounds of gender, belief age and ability was forbidden. Mr Winkler drew attention to the work of the European Agency monitoring xenophobia and racism, but said it was important that the EU create a new agency on fundamental rights which he said, citizens both want and need. Mr Winkler that national governments were taking measures but where education was insufficient, national criminal law should apply.
Leadership, he said, was required in this area and pointed to the work carried out under the Austrian Presidency including the marking of the 40th anniversary on the anti-discrimination day of 25 March. The battle, he said, had not yet been won, but the Presidency to combating such discrimination and violence.
Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Commissioner Vladimir SPIDLA told MEPs that the Commission condemns all forms of racism and xenophobia and will continue to combat them with every tool at its disposal. "The Commission deeply deplores that Member States have still not adopted 2001 framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia. Its objective is to stamp out all forms of racism including on religious grounds. The Commission urges the Council to adopt it without watering down." The Commission was also supporting the work of the EU Monitoring Centre and initiatives such the Year of Equal Opportunities planned for 2007.
He said the Commission roundly condemns all forms of homophobia, which he said flew in the face of the principles on which Europe was built. He pointed out that the Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits any discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. In addition to legislative measures, he said, must be accompanied by other measures to stamp out discrimination and denigrating behaviour. "We are firmly convinced that the EU must be a model of the fight against racism, xenophobia and homophobia," he concluded.
Political Group speakers
Speaking for the EPP-ED group, Patrick GAUBERT (FR) said "The EU is founded on a community based on indivisible and universal rights of human dignity, freedom and solidarity. We see on daily basis that struggle against intolerance is far from over. It is upsetting to have to recall that racism is unacceptable in our societies. As Members of Parliament we must firm and roundly condemn it." He said that governments should adopt the framework decision on racism and xenophobia. He regretted, however, that Parliament was missing an opportunity to speak with one voice on these issues. This was not a left or right wing struggle, he said, adding that he understood why his group had not signed the joint resolution.
Socialist group leader Martin SCHULZ (DE) said that when he joined the European Parliament twelve years ago, he would not have thought it possible that such a debate would be needed again. "Racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hatred of minorities is horrifying. It should set alarm bells ringing." All democratic political forces of left and right had joined to created the EU to resolve the conflicts of 20th century, and to abandon movements based on hatred of minorities and those who did not conform. "The idea was to form a community based on fundamental rights for all regardless of belief, nationality, skin colour, origin and how they want to live... we want to organise a society where all have their place."
People riding roughshod over minorities for political benefit had happened before, he said, and this was not just in the new Member States or in one country: "This is not criticism of any nations, but against the intellectual bankruptcy of people promoting such ideas. They don't belong in any society, and certainly not in this Parliament."
For the ALDE group, Sophia IN 'T VELD (NL)said that it was "unfortunate" that it was still necessary to debate this issue. People were still being killed just because of the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation which she described as "barbarian". She welcomed the recent equality marches including the one in Warsaw which she took part in. Subsidiarity was an excuse for national governments not to act and this issue should be discussed at EU level. The EU should aim to be "the world champion" in the defence of fundamental rights.
Jean LAMBERT(Greens/EFA, UK) welcomed the strong statements and expressed her wish for other politicians to be as clear and forthright. She said that "it is clear that no European Union Member State is free from this hatred". "We have to be clear that we won't tolerate this in our Member States", she added. Ms Lambert was disappointed that it took several deaths, even in her own country, for awareness to be raised. A main problem is the media, she concluded.
Vittorio AGNOLETTO (GUE/NGL, IT) described this resolution's presence as a "democratic emergency". He said that this behaviour was incompatible with the European Union, specifying that his party will be asking for sanctions if homophobic and racist actions continue. He closed by saying that the Austrian Presidency has not done as much as it could have done as it has been hindered by the presence of Haider's neo-fascist party in the presidency.
Wojciech ROSZKOWSKI (UEN, PL) stated that justice requires a level-headed approach and one needs to be very careful when generalising about certain actions. He continued that there were too many contradictions within the resolution as well as equalisation on racism and homophobia with ideological differences. He attacked the Netherlands with regards to their "paedophilic party" and said that the other countries ought to look at their own countries before harassing others.
Bogdan PĘK (IND/DEM, PL) stated that this was very significant day for the European Parliament as it could set a new trend in the legislative fight against racism and for minorities. But he believed that his debate was turning into another fight between the political left and the political right. He said that it was unacceptable for Poland to have to be grotesquely slandered by the Left.
Attacking the speaker of the PES directly, Maciej Marian GIERTYCH (NI, PL) said that it would be useful for various MEPs to check their facts before presenting them in the debate. He continued that the former Communists gave the homosexual community protecting. However, the present government is a government of law and order, and order includes moral order.
British and Irish speakers
Bairbre DE BRÚN (GUE/NGL, UK) said that in her constituency in the North of Ireland, there had been an increase in sectarian and homophobic violence including the murder of a 15 year old boy Michael McIlveen. She called on the Council to adopt the 2001 anti-discrimination framework directives.
Eoin RYAN (UEN, IE) highlighted the increase in racism during football matches in many countries including monkey chanting, neo-fascist symbols and the throwing of banana skins. He welcomed the fact that the FIFA would crackdown on this increase and said the World Cup in Germany was a key opportunity not to be missed with an estimated global accumulative audience of 20 billion spectators.
Michael CASHMAN (PES, UK) said he was saddened by the comments of Polish MEPs from the League of Polish Families and the Law and Justice Party. Religion or family values, he said, represented no excuse for the promotion of hatred, discrimination and evil. "What value is there in diminishing the lives of ordinary human beings? There is none," he said. Having taken part in the Gay Pride march in Warsaw, he said that the decent reception it had received from ordinary people there had shown that the two parties he mentioned did not represent the decent, ordinary people of Poland.
Sarah LUDFORD (ALDE, UK) said citizens must be puzzled that the EU had good laws protecting people from discrimination as consumers and employees, but not as people. "Why is there a lack of EU action on hate crimes, when we can agree on pollution crimes?" she asked. She hoped to avoid high blown rhetoric about a union of values, which no action was taken. She also said it was disgraceful for Mr Roszkowski to refer to paedophilia in the context of homosexuality - there was no evidence, she said, that paedophilia was more prevalent among homosexuals than heterosexuals.
Claude MORAES (PES, UK) said being subject to racial or homophobic violence was something that you never forgot. "When my parents arrived in Europe in the 1960s we suffered from it and we have never forgotten." He called for the Council to take action by adopting the framework decision. "Racist attacks can be solved, penalties can be increased. We can send a political signal of leadership. The scar of discrimination is greater today than it was in the 1960s."
Response to the debate
In his response to the debate, Hans WINKLER, in his response to the debate for the Presidency said that he was convinced that it was necessary for the EU to speak with one voice on this matter and not to reproach each other for any shortcomings. He stressed the importance of the media, but recognised that it was impossible to censor the media but rather it was necessary for the media to exercise some self regulation or control.
Commissioner SPIDLA concluded the debate by saying that the notion of tolerance and equality had always been part and parcel of the European Union. He quoted the preface to a Papal Bull from the early 18th century, which noted that the sun shines in the same way over everyone - something that had sometimes been overlooked in periods of intolerance. "When you look at the inequalities which exist, when political action is taken to prevent demonstrations, with some people trading on intolerance as their basic policy plank, you see a loss of the fundamental values of the European project, " he said. He said the debate had shown a firm will in Parliament to back the concepts of equal opportunities and tolerance, while rejecting racism, xenophobia and homophobia.
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Homophobia in Europe
European Parliament's Resolution on Racism and Homophobia is Welcome, Timely and Needed
On 15 June 2006, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the increase of racist and homophobic violence in Europe. ILGA-Europe welcomes this resolution and joins the European Parliament's call to the Finnish presidency to intensify work on the 2001 Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia and to explicitly extend it to homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other types of offences motivated by phobia or hatred based on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion or other irrational grounds.
The last time the European Parliament debated homophobia in Europe was just at the beginning of this year. Not much has changed since; in fact, we are witnessing even greater expressions and manifestations of homophobia in many countries. Polish leaders continued to make false and humiliating accusations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; the Polish Education Minister dismissed an official for publishing a guide on human rights that the Minister saw as the guide too gay friendly; and just yesterday the Latvian Parliament in a demonstratively provocative manner ignored the authority and the law of the European Union by rejecting a legislative proposal to include sexual orientation in the anti-discrimination provision of the Labour law as required by the EU Employment Equality Directive.
Riccardo Gottardi, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said: "We all heartedly welcome this resolution and the determination of the European Parliament to address homophobia and other forms of prejudice and discrimination in the European Union."
There is a significant number of statements, resolutions and declarations by various EU institutions and officials. We believe it is now the time to take very concrete and serious actions to make it clear to everyone in the European Union that homophobia and other forms of discriminations are not accepted and will be dealt with in the most serious manner.
We urge Finland who takes up the EU Presidency on 1 July 2006 to actively engage in work on the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia to incorporate the EP's recommendations. We also encourage the European Commission to take immediate legal actions against those member states which deliberately resist implementation of the EU requirements of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
by alfayoko2005 | 2006-06-17 00:29