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The Principle of Equality Turned Upside Down

19. Februar 2014 von Gudrun Kugler and Sophia Kuby

Is it really the government’s job to enforce the alleged advancement of society through laws prescribing how citizens should (or should not) act and think, and what they should (or should not) believe? How much education, control and supervision does a legislature believe citizens need?

The principle of equality before the law, which was achieved over hundreds of years, runs the risk of disappearing. In the process of becoming a major principle of political and legal thinking, its meaning has become confused with an equality of moral choices, and a statistical equality regarding how men and women live.

These newer understandings are quite different from the original meaning of equality before the law. Yet such a development still remains largely unchallenged. Moreover, the new understanding of equality is increasingly the basis of harsh anti-discrimination legislation proposed at the EU level — and at the level of many European countries.

In 2012, for example,...

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A turning tide: What is really going on at the European Parliament?

05. Februar 2014

Despite massive mobilisation against the controversial LGBTI road-map for the EU, the so-called “Lunacek Report” was adopted in plenary yesterday, 4th of February, with 394 in favour, 176 against, and 72 abstentions. Opposition expressed against the Report was unprecedented: 200,000 citizens signed a petition asking MEPs to reject the Report, while hundreds of NGOs sent letters to MEPs explaining the obvious dangers of this text. Yet a majority of MEPs voted in favour of it.

The arguments against the Lunacek Report have been widely discussed. Tens of thousands of citizens and many civil society organisations, accompanied by some MEPs, had expressed their concern that such a road-map aims at creating special “LGBTI rights”—and not at protecting the same human rights for all. As a consequence, a certain lifestyle, which is and will remain that of a tiny minority, will enjoy special protection in every respect. This puts freedom of speech, of conscience, of religion, and parental rights themselves at great risk. In the Lunacek Report, the very concept of human rights as the universal recognition of the rights flowing from the inherent human dignity of each and every person has been abandoned.

Despite all these concerns, a majority of MEPs bought into the illusion that a report asking for special legal protection for just one social group would advance equality in Europe.

Mrs. Lunacek and her allies repeatedly insisted that the Report calls for equality for LGBTI persons, not for any special right. But they never provided any evidence for this in any single statement made and consistently failed to respond to the thoughtful concerns raised by citizens across Europe.

A fading reality

Until very recently,...

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Lunacek answers her critics — and confirms: This report does not promote equality for all but special privileges for some. Opposition is now growing.

29. Januar 2014

Mrs. Lunacek is getting nervous. From the beginning, she’s imagined that her “Report on the EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity” would pass plenary this upcoming 4th of February without debate — and without major resistance from the public. After all, the committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) had voted in favour of the text with a solid majority last December. But with more and more citizens all over Europe taking an interest in the Report’s actual contents, massive opposition is growing. So far, more than 100,000 emails from concerned citizens have reached MEPs and the protests are only getting louder.

This is the second time in a scant few months that large popular protest from across Europe arises against an ‘own-initiative’ report on areas where citizens do not want to be told by politicians how to live, what to think and how to educate their children. Just like Mrs. Estrela, the rapporteur of this report, Ulrike Lunacek, tries to pass it quickly and without debate (and thus avoid any exposure to the public until after the vote). Last December, Mrs. Estrela learned her lesson. In the end, she was firmly reminded that as an MEP she is elected to represent European citizens — not the shadowy lobby groups that pushed for her report — whose views differ considerably from her own pro-abortion agenda. With this defeat fresh in her mind and with massive email protest against her own report, Mrs. Lunacek is now getting nervous. 

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The “Estrela Agenda” Back In Plenary This Week Through The Backdoor

13. Januar 2014

Despite the clear defeat of the Estrela Report in December after a groundswell of public opposition, the so-called “Estrela Agenda” — which calls for abortion on demand, compulsory sex education at the primary and secondary school levels, and restrictions on freedom of conscience — is being pushed forward once again in the European Parliament.

The latest effort to bring back this radical agenda — which citizens from across Europe have expressed clear opposition to — is being spearheaded by the Socialist and Democrats Group (S&D) in the European Parliament. The S&D group, of which Mrs. Estrela is also a member, want to bring a statement from the European Commission on “non-discrimination in the framework of sexual and reproductive health and rights” to plenary on January 16. Such a statement can eventually lead to a resolution on SRHR again.

By requesting the use of a procedure allowed under the Parliament’s Rule 110 regarding “Statements by the Commission, Council and European Council”, supporters of the original Estrela Report now seek to push the same content forward under a different guise. That rule states that “Members of the Commission, the Council and the European Council may at any time ask the President of Parliament for permission to make a statement” — and further says that “[w]hen placing a statement with debate on its agenda, Parliament shall decide whether or not to wind up the debate with a resolution”.

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We want human rights for all, not special rights for some

19. Dezember 2013

Although reason prevailed at the recent vote on sexual and reproductive health (Estrela Report) at the European Parliament, the next attempt of lobby-driven politics is already on the agenda. With the “Lunacek Report”, special rights and privileges are being claimed for some — against equality and the same human rights for all.  

The attempt to advance special privileges for some at the cost of equality for all comes — again — in the form of an “Own Initiative Report”, a non-binding text voted in Parliament on areas that often fall outside the EU‘s competence.

The “Report on the EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity” was presented on November 5 in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and was adopted in committee this week (on December 17) with 40 MEPs in favour, 2 against, and 6 abstentions. MEP Ulrike Lunacek from the Green party in Austria — and who also serves as the Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights — is the Rapporteur for this report. (Mrs. Lunacek was also one of the most outspoken promoters of the Estrela Report.)

The interests of a small but powerful lobby vs. equality for all

The Report asserts that LGBTI persons should have the same human rights as everyone else. This is an assertion that can be fully supported. The very purpose of human rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention and other international human rights documents is to grant a minimum level of protection of the integrity of every person because everyone has equal worth and dignity.

However, while the universal application and validity of human rights for all — regardless of personal preferences, age, or any other property — needs to be defended in the EU, the Lunacek Report turns this fundamental equality upside down by claiming that specific LGBTI rights should now be considered human rights. This turns the universal validity of human rights into its exact opposite.

This would mean that one particular group in society, which wants to push for their own particular interest, should be able to declare new human rights as they please. Such an arbitrary extension of human rights (often superficially equated with more justice) will not lead to more human rights but rather to the decay of the very concept of human rights.

To claim that LGBTI rights are human rights is as meaningful as saying “sport rights are human rights” or “classical music lover’s rights are human rights”. Human rights are not there to protect the specific interests of a particular group but to protect the innate dignity of every human person. The Lunacek report is thus profoundly against equality and advocates for more special privileges for persons who do not suffer in any way from a denial of their human rights.

Problem points in the Report

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