On June 9, thousands will march in Washington, D.C.’s signature Pride Parade, making their way from Dupont Circle to Logan Circle in a swarm of rainbow flags, music and positivity.
We’ll be there.
We’ll be there because discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual people is not an issue that merely requires awareness to be raised – it is at the core of our understanding of human rights.
We’ll be there because the European Union is committed to the universality of human rights, and has reaffirmed its position that cultural, traditional or religious values cannot be invoked to justify discrimination against LGBTI persons. This year, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No better moment this year in D.C. to show our support to those fighting for human rights worldwide.
We’ll be there because we’re proud of the steps we have already taken. The European Union continues to work proactively with third countries to eliminate violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons, carrying out discreet diplomacy in response to specific cases. We were actively involved in organizing the high-level #Path2Equality ministerial meeting that was held during the 71st UN General Assembly, which brought together global leaders to discuss LGBTI issues and helping to achieve the inclusion of this topic on the official agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year. Meanwhile, the EU maintains an internal focus as well, and is happy to have recently developed guidance and face-to-face training for staffs to enhance communication and combat prejudice.
We’ll be there because we recognize the many steps that are still yet to be taken. Currently, prejudice and misconceptions about homosexuality and transgender people still litter many EU Member States. Under EU law, people who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or gay are protected from discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation – but only in the field of employment. A recent research poll by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency showed that LGBTI people too often face discrimination in all areas of life, which unfortunately results in many individuals choosing to keep their true selves invisible, fearing negative consequences. We must work to extend our efforts, ensuring that LGBTI protection is not only a workplace reality, but a commonplace one.
We’ll be there because we oppose national restrictions of sexual orientation and identity. Currently, same-sex relationships are criminalized in 73 countries, 13 of which see homosexual acts as punishable by death. Such discrimination is condemned by international law, yet remains an international problem seeking an international solution.
We’ll be there because we believe that this solution can (and should) start with the European Union and the United States. Together, the EU and the U.S. carry an influence that is felt around the world, as we actively seek to promote the ideals of peace, prosperity, and democracy – ideals we both share that we hope to make the global norm. The rights of LGBTI persons are no different.
We’ll be there because we are proud to fly the rainbow flag every May 17 in honor of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. We’ll be there because we are proud to have marched last year, and the year before that.
We’ll be there again this year. And we hope to see you there as well.
David O’Sullivan is the European Union Ambassador to the United States.