During today’s State of the European Union address, President Von der Leyen had strong words on gender equality and even called for the approval of an EU Directive on Violence against Women that criminalizes sex without consent as rape.
It is still not the case in many member states and this is particularly dangerous for women in intersectional positions, including LBTI women, who are at an increased risk of violence.
While we very much welcome the President’s words and leadership on this topic, we could not fail to notice her almost complete silence on LGBTI issues.
In 2020, Von der Leyen declared that “the EU is an LGBTI freedom zone” and that “if you are a parent in one country, you are a parent in every country”. But this year, during her last address as president of this Commission, she kept silent. In the meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Meloni is making sure that if you are a lesbian, you will not be a parent in Italy, LGBTI people are still used as scapegoats in Hungary and Poland, trans people are denied their right to self-determination all over the EU, and LGBTI asylum seekers are pushed back at the EU borders.
LGBTI rights were never just about being able to love whom we want; they are human rights. Guaranteeing our rights to existence, to safety, and the recognition of our families is a matter of survival for democracy in the EU.
We need the EU to also show strong leadership and fully protect and recognize our rights. Not only for our sake, but to seriously protect EU values.