What can the European Union & its Member States do for you and LGBTI rights?
“The EU stands together with LGBTI people all around the world in the struggle to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. All human beings are equal in dignity and all are entitled to enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The EU will continue to advocate measures to combat discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons, and to actively promote their rights.”
— Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU, on the International Day against Homo-, Trans- and Biphobia (2015)
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Did you know that the European Union and its member states have committed to the promotion and protection of all human rights of LGBTI persons? And did you know you can turn to EU missions and the embassies of all 28 member states for support?
Through different tools (including financial support) the EU seeks to actively support LGBTI rights. These are described in the EU LGBTI guidelines for the EU delegations and member state embassies. This short guide will give you insight in these guidelines and tools. It also explains what you may expect, how you can connect, create support and ask for action from the EU and its member states to support you in your fight for LGBTI rights.
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Creating awareness and debate together
To track and monitor the human rights situation of LGBTI persons in the country concerned and obtain information on violence and discrimination by state and non-state actors, EU delegations and embassies should be in contact with local authorities, regional organisations and local and international civil society organisations. This includes individual violations of the human rights of LGBTI persons. If EU delegations and embassies are not yet involved enough, it is recommendable to engage them, and sensitize staff to your cause. In the end, all EU members have committed to LGBTI rights. It is therefore highly recommendable to make yourself known to the staff, build a durable relationship, and to report on all rights violations of LGBTI persons. EU delegations and embassies use – or should use – this information in their periodic reporting. They have to identify and monitor individual cases of apparent violations (staff may only take actions if the person involved gives consent). Furthermore, they have the power to take specific measures, such as raising the issue in political dialogue, public statements and considerations of financing local projects and events.
- Provide information for monitoring and reporting human rights violations
- Invite EU diplomats to your events
- Encourage diplomats to join the debate
- Invite EU diplomats for rounds of consultation with civil society organisations on how to mainstream LGBTI issues
- Ask for public statements
- Provide opportunities for exchange and dialogue
- Request support for academic research
Ask for support
Financial and strategic assistance
The EU delegations and member state embassies have different possibilities to promote the human rights of LGBTI persons. It is not always easy to find information on this, but they have had the instruction to facilitate information on the available funding instruments to help you out. They should equally engage with civil society to develop strategic assistance. In this, they can participate and support in the exercise of freedom of assembly and expression such as public events and “pride marches”, and have possibilities for project funding through small and large grants.
- Propose sponsorship of your events
- Ask for information on available funding for small and large projects
- Write grant proposals, respond to calls
When aware of cases, staff can attend and observe court hearings during legal procedures concerning violations of the human rights of LGBTI persons, paying special attention to high-risk cases. In due cause, state prosecutor, police authorities, or an established and independent visiting body can be contacted to ask for permission to visit places of detention in order, for example, to assess the situation of LGBTI persons in detention. In addition to diplomatic efforts in emergency situations, several governments and international organizations provide further emergency assistance in case of a threat of physical violence.
- Contact EU mission and embassies for direct support in cases of emergency
- Ask them to document and take action on individual cases (court/detention/etc.)
The EU and its member states have committed to encourage countries to initiate legislative changes to ensure rights of LGBTI persons. They can also provide you with information on laws and best practices regarding LGBTI persons in the EU. In addition, the EU encourages countries to establish independent bodies in charge of monitoring, reporting and making recommendations in national and international fora and supports those countries that are in favour of promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTI persons, encourage closer cooperation in multilateral fora and promote their efforts as examples on a regional level. Of course, all these different possible actions would not fit every local context. You can create awareness among diplomats about impact of their actions and possible backlashes by discussing sensitivities.
- Engage with EU delegation and embassy staff
- Provide them with factual information
- Show the disparities between national laws and practices, and international commitments
- Advise them on the proper way of conduct in your local context
Too much to ask?
Do you think all of this is too much to ask? It’s not! The European Union and its Member States have committed to doing all of this. Unfortunately, not all delegation and embassy staff are fully aware of all available tools, but you can point out to them what the possibilities are. It would be best to get yourself acquainted with and refer to the EU LGBTI Guidelines.
Who to contact?
With possibly 28 member states and an EU Delegation in your country, it is difficult to give a clear answer on whom to contact for what. Concerning the EU Delegations, the internal organization might differ from delegation to delegation. In general, the best point of entry would be the human rights focal point. As it might be hard to discover which staff member serves as the focal point, the best way of entry would be the so-called operations section. This department is primary responsible for EU programmes and funding. Some delegations call this department also ‘cooperation’, ‘development and cooperation’, or any other variety of this sort. With member state embassies, things get more complicated. It is advisable to get in touch with staff working on human rights, development and cooperation. With smaller embassies you might not always find separate departments and staff, and you are advised to contact higher officials directly. Thankfully, most embassies and all delegations have a clear directory of staff on their websites and are easily found via any online search engine.
- Here you can find contact details of the EU Delegations
- Here you can find a list of EU Member State embassies in your country
- Contact COC Netherlands or ILGA-Europe for reporting good and bad practices
- Contact ILGA-Europe for assistance in engaging EU foreign policy staff in Brussels
You might still have questions or concerns after reading this. COC Netherlands would be happy to assist you. You may always get in touch with us: [email protected]