Equality for all, also outside Brussels
by Roel Hoenders
Only three days before the Brussels Gay Pride 2007 took place on 12 May, one of the political groups of the European Parliament (ALDE) organized a public seminar entitled “Gay Prides: exposure and impact”. The purpose of the meeting was both to inform and share gay pride experiences to an audience of EU decision- and policymakers. Such political events are needed as gay prides still suffer from severe opposition in some EU Member States (mostly countries who joined the EU in 2004), sometimes even violence and hatred from public, police and political and religious leaders.
Besides this necessary support for organizers of gay prides in particular, such types of actions and events also underline the responsibility and role of EU institutions within a wider framework of promoting human rights. When discussing how to bring the EU citizen closer to the EU institutions, initiatives like the seminar mentioned above should play a prominent role. The EU is not a bureaucratic monster just creating burdensome legislation; the EU institutions play a vital role in systematically and continuously promoting human rights and explicitly addressing discrimination issues.
Moreover, the call for action of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is not limited to their Strasbourg and Brussels desks. A number of MEPs participated (or will participate) in especially those prides which were under a lot of political pressure or even facing prohibition. Main message of these MEPs is that the European Union not only constitutes an economic union but also a union of values.