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United Nations expert addresses first ever PES LGBTI Network


24 May 2017


Global Europe
Social Europe & Jobs
Trade & Society

The PES's first ever high-level meeting on LGBTI took place today in the context of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Special guest Vitit Muntarbhorn, the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, led a discussion on the current state of LGBTI rights around the world.

Mr Muntarbhorn is currently writing a report for the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, studying the issues facing the LGBTI community, including the need to:

  • expand anti-discrimination laws
  • increase gender identity recognition
  • decriminalize same-sex relations, still a criminal act in 72 countries

Mr Muntarbhorn said the world needs to “embrace diversity and energize humanity”.

The meeting was chaired by Portugal’s secretary of state Catarina Marcelino, who said:

“Our political family has played a huge role in advancing the LGBTI agenda and improving rights. It’s in our DNA to uphold equality, non-discrimination, and human dignity as basic fundamental values.

 “LGBTI issues are gaining traction at many levels, national, European, and internationally. But we still need to work on prioritising and centralising an LGBTI agenda.”

Ms Marcelino called for the PES to create an LGBTI ministerial network, which would provide a platform for ministers and state secretaries to take stock of the current situation, share experiences and best practices and learn from one another for better LGBTI equality mainstreaming in all policy spheres.

The PES believes that the respect and promotion of LGBTI rights is a fundamental pillar for a better European society. We believe that our achievements and best practices should be shared among our colleagues in order to promote a standard level of human rights.

The meeting was also attended by:

  • Daniele Viotti, S&D MEP and co-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
  • Giacomo Filibeck, Deputy Secretary General of the PES
  • Mia Sundelin, President of Rainbow Rose
  • Thijs Verbeugrt, Sp.a Director of Policy Unit
  • Sandrine Debunne from the Belgian Ministry of Education for Social Promotion, Youth, Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities

The first order of business for the developing network was to adopt a statement on Chechnya.