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Implementing LGBTI rights in the European Union: legislation and litigation

On 4 March 2021, lawyer Denitsa Lyubenova from the Destvie's Law Programme took part in the webinar "Implementing LGBTI rights in the European Union: legislation and litigation". The webinar was organized by the political group Renew Europe, which is the third largest group in the European Parliament with 98 members from 22 EU countries defending European values and liberal principles.

The webinar addressed the application of EU law and principles in the area of LGBTI rights. The webinar discussed what the European Commission and other EU institutions can do to enforce EU law and make sure Member States comply with it. The LGBTI Equality Strategy (2020-2025), proposed in November 2020 by the European Commission, and how to continue advocating for equality and opposing discrimination within the Union were discussed. The webinar also looked at a series of court cases that EU citizens are forced to litigate in order to claim their rights in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, due to the legal discrimination that exists in these countries against LGBTI people.

The webinar was attended by:

  • Szabolcs Schmidt - Head of Unit, Non-Discrimination and Roma Coordination, Directorate General Justice, European Commission;

  • Sophie in't Veld - MEP for the Netherlands, Democrats 66, part of the Renew Europe political group;

  • Miltos Pavlou - Member of the Roma and Migrant Integration Sector at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency;

  • Arpi Avetisyan - LGBTI rights advocate and lawyer, leading advocacy work at ILGA Europe;

  • Adrian Coman and Clai Hamilton, applicants for a preliminary ruling in Case C-673/16 Coman

  • Vladimir Simonko - President of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL)

  • Denitsa Lyubenova - lawyer and Head of the Legal Programme of the LGBT organisation Action.

Reminder: during the next plenary session, the European Parliament will debate and vote on a resolution declaring the EU an "LGBTIQ freedom zone". This resolution will mark the sad 2-year anniversary of the first Polish resolution against so-called LGBTI ideology, which declared "LGBTI-free zones" in a series of counties in Poland. This resolution is a signal to all LGBTI people, organisations and activists that the European Parliament stands by them and stands up for their rights. It is equally a signal to elected politicians, governments and decision-makers that discrimination against LGBTI people in any way shape or form is not in line with European values. This resolution is political - and while it may not change the reality of what it is to be an LGBTI person in many parts of the EU, it reinforces the notion that the European Union we are fighting for is one in which every person should live and love freely.

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