On February 8th, Marietje Schaake and Sophie in 't Veld submitted the following parliamentary questions to High Representative Federica Mogherini:
On February 7th, Bermuda became the first country ever to reverse same-sex marriage. The constitution of Bermuda explicitly prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Bermuda is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and its governor is appointed by ‘Her Majesty the Queen, on the advice of the British Prime Minister. He is responsible for upholding the Bermuda Constitution and for other duties as assigned by the Queen or her Ministers’ (2).
The rights and protection of LGBTI people are core values of the European Union and also became an essential part of EU foreign relations with the adoption of the ‘LGBTI guidelines’ by the Foreign Affairs Council in 2013.
1. Is the HR/VP aware of this development and if so, has she already been in contact with relevant authorities, both in Bermuda and the United Kingdom?
2. Does the HR/VP agree that the apparent unwillingness or inability by the UK government to prevent the decision by Bermuda undermines both internal and external EU policy to uphold and protect LGBTI rights?
3. What explicit actions will the HR/VP undertake to continue to promote LGBTI rights in Bermuda and will increased funding be made available to do so under the EIDHR and/or other relevant instruments?
Answer given by Mr Mimica on behalf of the Commission:
The Commission is aware of the recent decision of the United Kingdom Overseas Country and Territory Bermuda to reverse a ruling allowing same-sex marriage.
The EU is committed to promoting and protecting the enjoyment of all human rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons, as enshrined in the EU Guidelines adopted on 24 June 2013(1). The EU applies the principle of universality of human rights, affirming that LGBTI persons have the same rights as all other individuals and ensuring that they are protected from any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. No cultural, traditional and religious value can be invoked to justify any discrimination.
While the EU seeks equal treatment for individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, it does not seek to promote either same-sex marriage or adoption by same-sex couples, as both of these issues lie outside its competence and as Member States take different approaches on these issues. The debate about introducing same-sex marriage should therefore be held at national level.
The EU released its Annual Report 2017 on the List of actions to advance LGBTI equality(2). It bundles the Commission's effort to advance LGBTI equality both inside and outside the EU around key actions. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights(3) remains the main EU instrument to support projects worldwide to protect LGBTI persons from discrimination. 21 projects under implementation(4) empower people to challenge homophobic laws and discrimination against LGBTI people, raise awareness among the general public and combat discrimination and violence experienced by sexual minorities, and provide emergency assistance to vulnerable LGBTI persons.
(2)‘Leading by example’; ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/document.cfm?action=display&doc_id=50034
(EU) No 235/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of
11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for democracy and
human rights worldwide, OL L 77, p. 85.
(4)Currently no project is implemented in Bermuda.