Renewal in Brussels of the call for respect for the rights of LGBTI persons in the EU

The 2013 call for a comprehensive EU-wide policy approach to LGBTI issues was renewed on Friday at noon in Brussels on the occasion of the 5th IDAHOT Forum (short for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, celebrated annually on May 17).

The federal and Brussels Secretaries of State for Equal Opportunities, Zuhal Demir and Bianca Debaets, signed the call into action. Wallonia and Flanders will do the same later.

European ministers had launched this appeal to the European Commission and the member states at the IDAHOT Forum for the first time in 2013. Since then, progress has been made, such as the adoption of the “List for Advancing LGBTI Equality” by the Commission in December 2015.

The fifth edition of the forum, held in Brussels on Friday, was an opportunity to renew it. “The Belgian government is committed to continuously supporting and strengthening the LGBTI community, both nationally and internationally”, said Zuhal Demir. “A situation other than full social inclusion is insufficient and is not acceptable.”

“This international conference aims to reaffirm the intangible Belgian point of view on these crucial issues of individual freedoms”, stresses Isabelle Simonis, Minister of Equal Opportunities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, in a statement.

“By taking inspiration from each other, we are taking a step forward for the LGBTIQ community”, adds Bianca Debaets.

Belgium has fallen this year by two places, from second to fourth place in the “Rainbow Index”, according to a publication by IGLA Europe (International Lesbian and Gay Association) on Wednesday. This ranking seeks to determine the state of LGBT rights across Europe. Zuhal Demir, however, expects a new leap next year, thanks in particular to the new transgender law and the inter-federal action plan around this theme.

The federal secretary of state is also considering the creation of a sort of “info point” for intersex people. This theme was also discussed on Friday, although many people do not feel that they are a part of the LGBTI community. Intersex persons have at least one of the different possible variants of sexual characteristics “which do not correspond to the typical definitions of male or female bodies”, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The population born with intersex traits is estimated to be 1.7%, which makes intersex differences as common as red hair.

The forum continued on Friday afternoon.

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