2007 has been proclaimed the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. One of the first political accomplishments of the year has been the unfortunate creation of a new European-level political group entitled Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS). Ironically, this was made possible through the accession of newest EU Member States Bulgaria and Romania. It is a difficult milestone to digest for the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights. Although ITS calls itself a centre-right group, the history of its MEPs, including one of whom is facing charges of holocaust denial in court, highlights that this is the first extremist group that will sit in the European Parliament and receive European funding.
“What the creation of this new political group Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty signals for the LGBT community in particular is that hatred and homophobia are still not things of the past,” Raul Romeva i Rueda, Vice-President of the Intergroup remarked, “In all Member States there are people who are becoming more vocal and violent in their expression of intolerance. ITS is the latest example of this. We, European citizens who are committed to an open, tolerant, and diverse society, need to pool our strengths and unite our voices in 2007 and respond just as vocally. Tolerance is a European value; the intolerance that ITS MEPs have campaigned for in recent years is not.”
Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup, highlighted that whilst ITS claimed to be a defender of the rule of law, and direct accountability, its formation was taking place without a democratic mandate to do so, “One of the members of ITS, Ashley Mote, claims they represent the views held by millions of European citizens. Yet, none of them have actually been elected to do this. None of these MEPs have been elected to create ITS. This is not the culmination of a democratic call. Ashley Mote himself was kicked out of UKIP and is acting on a rogue mandate. The true motivation for doing any of this is to access the finances of the EU and use them to promote hatred, intolerance, and discrimination.”
“The Year of Equal Opportunities for All becomes all the more important now,” Alexander Stubb who is also Vice-President of the Intergroup, “This is a serious development that should not be silently accepted neither by our colleagues in the European Parliament nor by European citizens. We must unite in our opposition of extremism, whatever form it takes.”
Sophie in’t Veld, who is not only a Vice-President of the Intergroup but also chairs the Working Group on the Separation of Religion and Government further criticised ITS for its principles, “Europe should not be championing a specific religion, Europe should not be championing a single view on what a ‘natural family’ is. Europe is about creating a forum where all religions, heritages, and cultures can interact and co-exist in dialogues that enrich us all. If the ITS gets its way, what we will have created is an impoverished Europe, the deconstruction of everything we’ve fought to build in the last 60 years.”
Board of European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights; Michael Cashman (President), Sophie in ‘t Veld, Raül Romeva and Alexander Stubb.
For further information on the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, please visit our website at http://lgbt-ep.eu.