16 May 2012
This week, the international day against homophobia and transphobia is observed all over the world. In Europe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are still discriminated against and become victims of violence. In a speech at ILGA-Europe, the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association in Brussels, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström underlined the need for vigilance in fighting homophobia.
"There is a lack of courage, a lack of commitment and a failure to take our values seriously. This holds true for politicians, governments, companies, but also for ordinary citizens. Far too many of us decide not to stand up for our beliefs but to look the other way," Malmström said.
At the ILGA-Europe event, a report on the human rights situation for LGBTI people was released. It demonstrates big differences and gaps between countries when it comes to LGBTI rights in Europe. The international day is an opportunity to put focus on these issues, and on how homophobia and transphobia occur in our daily lives.
"We must all make sure that no matter where negative words are uttered and no matter by whom – whether it be a cherished family member, a great colleague or a good friend – that these negative words do not go unquestioned", Malmström said.
"Perhaps you just nod and try to change the subject? But this is exactly when we must interfere and ask the uncomfortable questions: what does your good friend really mean?", she added.
The international day against homophobia and transphobia occcurs on May 17th. A video was also released this week as part of the "It gets better" project, where representatives of EU institutions vow to work to put an end to homophobia and transphobia. Watch it here.