Today’s Opinion: Day against Homophobia

POSTED: 05/17/11 12:14 PM

Today is the International Day against Homophobia. The fact that such a day exists already indicates that there are plenty of people around the globe who actively disapprove of homosexuality. In more than eighty countries homosexuality is punishable by law. In seven African and Arab countries it carries the death penalty.
But even in Europe the position of gays and lesbians is not self-evident.
Pia Dijkstra and Sophie in ‘t Veld note in an opinion piece in the Volkskrant that while 500 million people have freedom of movement in the European Union, married or living together gay and lesbian couples run the risk of losing their pension rights or the guardianship of their children if they move to another country.
Within the union, gay discrimination is only prohibited in the work place. The European Parliament started pushing for a more general ban on gay discrimination, but so far several member states are blocking this legislation.
And while the European Parliament supports the protection of gays and transgender people who flee to Europe because of violence and prosecution in their own country, several member states (among them the Netherlands) have argued that gays in Iran have nothing to fear as long as they keep their sexual preference a secret.
In t’ Veld, a member of the European Parliament for D66, and Dijkstra, a member of the Second Chamber for the same party, note that the Netherlands is losing its leading role as a fighter for gay rights. The Netherlands has moved to the rear of the pack, and countries like Spain have taken over the leading role, they note, adding that Prime Minister Rutte has to start moving on his promise to promote the emancipation of lesbians and gays by giving Europe a red card.

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