In the last of its annual progress reports on accession countries, the European Parliament evaluated the situation in Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, including the situation of LGBTI people.
Earlier this year, the Parliament already evaluated progress in Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and FYR Macedonia.
In its report on Turkey, parliament highlights its concerns with the backsliding on democratic norms, like the freedom of expression and the media. It urges Turkey to respect the rights of minorities and to include the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in a new Constitution.
Furthermore, the Parliament regrets the failure to include protection for LGBT people in the Hate Crimes Bill. Hate Crimes against LGBTI people are a big problem in Turkey, which too often remains unpunished, or sentences are reduced on account of the victim’s alleged ‘unjust provocation’.
In its report on Albania, the European Parliament highlights the successful Tirana Pride, which was held without major incidents in June 2015.
It calls the effective legislative and policy measures to reinforce the protection of human rights, minority rights and anti-discrimination policies a key priority.
Regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Parliament calls for a country-wide anti-discrimination strategy and for the inclusion of a clear definition of gender identity, sexual orientation in the country’s anti-discrimination law.
Furthermore, the parliament expresses its concerns over hate violence, hate speech targeting LGBTI persons, and accordingly calls on the government to undertake awareness-raising actions on the rights of LGBTI people among the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the general public.
Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, commented: “While truly positive developments are happening on LGBTI rights in the Western Balkans, hate speech and hate violence remain problematic and are in many cases not addressed.”
“Politicians should show more courage to condemn hatred and prevent abuse. It’s time for equal rights for all.”
Kati Piri MEP, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup and author of the Turkey report, added: “In line with a general decline of the rule of law in Turkey, respect for LGBTI rights are no exception. Last year we’ve seen the Istanbul Pride banned and an increase in political hate speech.”
“The Turkish government must seriously address this problem. Laws tackling discrimination, hate speech and hate crime against LGBTI people are necessary, and implementation even more! Equality cannot wait any longer!”