Samantha Singson June 23, 2006
(NEW YORK — C-FAM) The Latvian Parliament has decided to exxclude a ban on sexual orientation discrimination from its Anti-Discrimination Bill, despite a directive from the European Union. Although implementation of the legislation was a condition for Latvia’s accession to the Union in 2004, Latvian lawmakers have rejected it.
The Anti-Discrimination Bill was first introduced in March 2004 with the aim of fulfilling EU-mandated requirements for race and employment equality, which include an explicit ban on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Several members of Latvia’s ruling Christian Democratic party called for the deletion of the sexual orientation clause, calling homosexuality “sinful” and “degenerate”.
Latvia is the only EU member state without legislation specifically outlawing discrimination at work and in housing on the grounds of sexual orientation.
This latest move by the Latvian parliament has again raised the ire of homosexual activists. In December 2005, the parliament passed a constitutional amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage with an overwhelming majority. Same-sex “marriage” was already illegal according to the Latvian civil law code, but the constitutional amendment now explicitly states that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.
Representatives from the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) are demanding that the EU reassess Latvia’s membership and said it hoped that the European Commission would take legal action to ensure the law was implemented in full. ILGA-Europe Executive Director, Patricia Prendiville said, “As an EU member state, Latvia is acting contradictory and disrespectfully to the principles of equality and non-discrimination agreed and confirmed by various EU treaties.” Riccardo Gottardi, Co-Chair of ILGA – Europe Executive Board said, “We believve it is now the time to take very concrete and serious actions to make it clear to everyone in the European Union that homophobia and other forms of discriminations are not accepted and will be dealt with in the most serious manner.” ILGA has repeatedly been rejected by the UN for NGO accreditation for allowing pedophile groups in their membership. UN NGO guidelines also forbid NGOs from “politically motivated” attacks on UN Member States. ILGFA’s attacks on Latvia will likely be seen as a violation.
One day prior to the Latvian parliamentary decision, the European Union passed a resolution to combat homophobia which would see sentences handed down for homophobic, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic offences. Despite the pressure from homosexual activists and the EU, members of the Latvian parliament have speculated that it is unlikely that the ban on sexual orientation discrimination with be reinstated or supported.