BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) is extremely concerned with recent adoptions of legislations legitimising violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups of people (LGBTQ).
In the past few months, fundamental human rights have been violated as some countries in Europe have adopted severe legislations condemning any sort of promotion or self-expression of LGBTQ behaviours and rights. Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine have all adopted or are in the process of adopting similar laws that breach the fundamental rights to assemble and freedom of expression of one particular community, the LGBTQ community.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) has condemned such developments in Russia, especially in relation to the legal proposal on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, which bans public discussions of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. ESU supports IGLYO’s concerns wholeheartedly and believes that such policies will only stigmatise LGBTQ people and enforce an act of public bullying. ESU strongly condemns all forms of violence against the LGTBQ community either through legislation or passivity and intolerance of society.
Those changes to basic legislations in Europe are most worrying and adopted in total violation of human rights values. They also legitimise all sort of homophobic acts, leaving the perpetrators of such deeds unpunished. ESU is therefore afraid that violence and aggression against LGBTQs will only increase because of this development.
“Heinous speeches and behaviours towards LGBTQs create an environment where members of the LGBTQ community, including students, are being constantly watched and tracked down. These people will only fear for their lives and have to deny their identity,” says Gabriela Bergan, human rights and solidarity coordinator at ESU.
Higher education institutions must be safe
This situation affects students in particular as they will have to face huge obstacles in their academic and social life. This hostile environment pushes many young people away from pursuing higher education. Members of the LGBTQ community will have fewer employment opportunities and be more isolated as a result.
“Higher education institutions do not always represent a safe study place and an opportunity for people to advance their personal development. Indeed, LGBTQ students are often bullied by their peers and professors that can cause traumas and make it more difficult for them to successfully complete their study programmes. There are also many other forms of indirect discrimination that these students have to face,” says Bergan.
“Higher education institutions should represent a place where every student is able to find personal satisfaction on top of acquiring knowledge. Higher education institutions are key places for people to become active citizens, meaning that active citizens have to act according to their own true self. A place that is not able to provide such environment is not able to have LGBTQ students. This will contribute later to a society where they are not allowed to live in dignity,” says Bergan.
ESU calls on responsible governments to protect and ensure that all their citizens enjoy the same rights. ESU also calls on students and higher education institutions to respect the primary goal of education and to make sure that each and every student has the possibility to be themselves in order to become active citizens that contribute to the society. ESU would like to restate that it strongly believes that every individual and every student should enjoy fundamental rights. Everyone has the right to assemble, to express themselves and to pursue a life in dignity.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.