Today the European Ombudsman ruled in favour of the European Commission, which had been criticised for hosting an exhibition portraying same-sex couples. The Ombudsman said this was fully within the Commission’s powers.
In 2011, the European Commission hosted an exhibition by ILGA-Europe calling for equal rights for LGBT people and their families.
The ‘Different Families, Same Love’ exhibition had previously been hosted at the European Parliament and in numerous European capitals. Among others, it called for equal family and parenting rights, and less discrimination against same-sex couples.
A citizen angered by the exhibition had asked the Ombudsman, whose task is to enforce good administration in EU institutions, to admonish the European Commission for displaying the posters.
In today’s decision, Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros said hosting the exhibition was coherent with the EU’s legal obligation to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. He added the Commission could have communicated more clearly that it didn’t necessarily endorse all messages in the exhibition.
Reacting to the Ombudsman’s decision, Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, said he was “extremely happy with this decision. The Ombudsman accomplished his mission to protect EU values and EU law, which include—black on white!—combating discrimination because of sexual orientation.”
“I’m concerned that a citizen would go all the way to the European Ombudsman simply because she didn’t like the principle of equality.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, also Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Now that the Commission was vindicated in hosting this exhibition, I hope it will get the Ombudsman’s clear message: combating discrimination based on sexual orientation can indeed include political statements like in this exhibition.”
“We need the Commission to be more forthcoming when it comes to fighting homophobia. This should include a European LGBT equality strategy, which the European Parliament has already asked for nine times since 2011. Parliament will start to work on such a roadmap seriously in September.”