EU Commissioner Viviane Reding receives anti-award from LGBTI organization Seta for disappointing attitude

The Finnish national LGBTI human rights organisation Seta awarded the EU Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding along with the whole Commission with Seta´s annual anti-award called the ”Rat of Honour”. Seta gives the ”Rat of Honour” to a person or organization that has expressed discriminatory opinions about LGBTI people, has discriminated against them or has in some other way given LGBTI people a hard time. The award was announced today in Tampere, Finland.

Commissioner Reding recently rejected a call for a comprehensive EU policy in LGBTI issues at the first European IDAHO (International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia) conference hosted by the government of the Netherlands in the Hague, Netherlands, on May 17th where a call for an ”LGBTI roadmap” was put forward by 12 EU member states, including Finland. The call followed a large survey by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU showing very high figures of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the fields of employment, education, goods and services, safety and social attitudes.

When addressing the IDAHO conference, Commissioner Reding claimed the EU is already doing all it can. She stated that progress in LGBTI issues  now lies in the hands of the member states, and went on to mock several member states for failure to advance LGBTI people’s rights. Reding´s reaction to the roadmap call was a huge disappointment to member states as well as NGOs and was experienced by many as insulting as the Commissioner went as far as to state that she is glad that she no longer is ”alone” in advancing LGBTI issues after the member states have declared their commitment.

”The EU had an excellent opportunity to point out the next steps towards stronger LGBTI politics in Europe but  Commissioner Reding failed to seize the moment”, stated Juha-Pekka Hippi, the chairperson of Seta, in his award speech. ”Several other Commissioners have done a lot for the LGBTI community but with Commissioner Reding’s attitude the whole Commission suffers in credibility. In that sense this anti-award also goes to the Commission” Juha-Pekka Hippi said.

In addition, Seta published today a positive award, the ”Apple of Good Information”. It’s given annually to a someone who has promoted the human rights of LGBTI people. This year, the recipient of the Apple is the Finnish youth magazine Demi for promoting LGBTI inclusive youth culture and language in the Demi magazine and web community. Demi has rejected heteronormativity and gender norms in its articles for the last three years. The initial initiative for this exemplary policy came from the readers themselves. According to Seta, Demi gives a great example of good practice in LGBTI inclusivity to other media as well as to all organisations and professionals working with and for young people.

The awards were delivered at Pirkanmaan Seta’s (Seta’s member organization) 40th anniversary festivities in Tampere after the Pirkanmaa Pride march.

Last year, Seta’s Rat of honour was awarded to the governor of St. Petersburg, Georgyi Poltavchenko, who signed the regional anti-LGBTI bill in St. Petersburg. A similar but even more worrying bill was adopted this week by the lower house of the State Duma of Russia and is already jeopardizing the lives of LGBTI people in all of Russia.

Seta is a national human rights organisation for LGBTI advocacy, educational activities and services. Seta was founded in 1974, three years after the decriminalization of homosexual conduct in Finland. Seta has 21 member organisations around the country, ranging from local branches to national thematic organisations such as Rainbow Families and elderly LGBTI people’s organisations. Seta runs a Trans Support Centre for counceling of trans and intersex persons and their families. http://www.seta.fi/en.php

More information:

Aija Salo, Secretary General, Seta – LGBTI Rights in Finland, paasihteeri@seta.fi, tel. +358 50 309 8108

ILGA-Europe´s (the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) media release about the speech of Commissioner Reding on May 17th:
http://www.ilga-europe.org/home/news/for_media/media_releases/commissioner_reding_refuses_to_take_leadership_or_step_up_eu_action_on_lgbti_issues

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