Hand­ful of bids for EU agen­cies, Malta in­cluded, men­tion gay rights

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

The po­si­tion of the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, in­ter­sex, and queer (LGBTIQ) com­mu­nity is specif­i­cally men­tioned in four of the 27 bids to host one of the Lon­don-based EU agen­cies af­ter Brexit.

Nev­er­the­less, at the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Aus­trian bid to host the Euro­pean Medicines Agency on Mon­day, it was made clear that con­cerns for the LGBTIQ are not yet main­streamed in all min­istries.

The EMA and the Euro­pean Bank­ing Au­thor­ity need to be re­lo­cated else­where in the EU af­ter the UK leaves, and mem­ber states have be­gun a sort of beauty pageant to con­vince their peers that their cities are the best des­ti­na­tion.

The bids re­veal some­thing about what cities think makes them com­pet­i­tive.

The Aus­trian bid for EMA specif­i­cally men­tions that Vi­enna, the can­di­date city, is "home to a thriv­ing and di­verse LGBTIQ com­mu­nity".

"In ad­di­tion to nu­mer­ous bars and night clubs, var­i­ous so­ci­eties, groups and me­dia in the city ad­vo­cate for the in­ter­ests of LGBTIQ per­sons at dif­fer­ent lev­els," the doc­u­ment sent to all EU mem­ber states said.

The bid spends sev­eral para­graphs on the is­sue.

How­ever, the Aus­trian bid to host the EBA, in the same city, said noth­ing about the LGBTIQ com­mu­nity.

On Mon­day, Aus­trian min­is­ter Pamela Rendi-Wag­ner pre­sented her coun­try's EMA bid in Brus­sels, and she was asked at the press con­fer­ence to ex­plain why no men­tion of LGBTIQ had been made in the EBA bid.

"I am min­is­ter for health, women's af­fairs and equal­ity in Aus­tria," said Rendi-Wag­ner. "This is a very im­por­tant topic. This is al­ways on my mind."

"I think about it," she noted, adding that "maybe the col­leagues from the min­istry of fi­nan­cial af­fairs [do] not [have] that [is­sue] so much in fo­cus when they wrote their bid".

"But the city is the same, I can guar­an­tee it," she said.

The other three coun­tries that specif­i­cally men­tion their gay com­mu­ni­ties are Greece, Italy, and Malta.

The Greek bid to host EMA said equal­ity was "en­coded in the DNA of the Greeks".

"Since 2005, Athens has been the proud host of the Athens Pride, or­gan­ised by a very ac­tive LGBT com­mu­nity," it said.

The Ital­ian bid for EMA stressed that all EMA fam­i­lies, "in­clud­ing LGBT fam­i­lies" will have a right to health care.

"Same-sex civil unions, pro­vide same-sex cou­ples with most of the le­gal pro­tec­tion en­joyed by mar­ried cou­ples, in­clud­ing so­cial rights and health as­sis­tance," the Ital­ians wrote.

They also noted that Mi­lan, the can­di­date city, has a spe­cial de­part­ment that of­fers "free coun­selling, prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance, le­gal as­sis­tance and in­for­ma­tion on lo­cal LGBTQI as­so­ci­a­tions".

Malta, which is also in the race to host EMA, is the fourth coun­try to em­pha­sise its gay-friend­li­ness.

It noted in its bid that the Mal­tese govern­ment is "work­ing to­wards in­tro­duc­ing mar­riage equal­ity in Malta", and that it re­cently in­tro­duced the op­tion to mark X un­der gen­der in iden­tity cards and pass­ports.

"Most Mal­tese are wel­com­ing to all, and the gay com­mu­nity is thriv­ing. There are also a num­ber of 'gay-friendly' pubs, night­clubs, restau­rants, ho­tels and events which may be eas­ily found," the Mal­tese bid said.

Sev­eral other coun­tries do men­tion their cities' "tol­er­ance and di­ver­sity" or "open-minded" peo­ple, but not as specif­i­cally tar­geted to the LGBTIQ com­mu­nity as the ex­am­ples above.

EU mem­ber states will de­cide which city will host the EMA and EBA in Novem­ber.

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