The event, hosted by Maltese Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli, brought together ministers from several Member States, MEPs, activists, NGOs and high level Commission officials, who discussed the mainstreaming of LGBTI equality and action at a European level, focusing also on issues such as education, healthcare and public safety.
Manchester city councillor Kevin Peel reiterated the position of the CoR PES Group on LGBTI issues, speaking about the importance of local political leadership and the need for NGOs and national and EU decision makers to work with local and regional politicians to push forward this agenda.
He said: "It is at the local level in every community that LGBTI people live their daily lives, interact with authorities and experience the issues which need to be addressed - discrimination, hate crime, differentiated access to services because of their sexuality or gender identity. Local leadership is extremely important and can make a real difference on issues such as education, healthcare, crime and safety. The EU needs to do more to support local and regional authorities to deliver the actions in its LGBTI Roadmap and to foster positive dialogue in local and regional authorities to encourage them to champion equality for their citizens."
Councillor Peel also joined a delegation from Rainbow Rose - the LGBTI network of the Party of European Socialists - to meet with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to discuss a wide range of issues and held a bilateral meeting with Minister Dalli to raise the plight of LGBTI refugees from Syria who he recently met in Turkey, representing the CoR PES Group, at the invite of Besiktas municipality in Istanbul. LGBTI refugees face additional discrimination on account of being refugees and LGBTI and face real challenges in Turkey in accessing housing, employment and being the victims of hate crimes. Minister Dalli committed to looking further at these issues.
Members of the CoR PES Group had the opportunity to have a comprehensive exchange of views on LGBTI issues with Minister Dalli at the seminar organised by the PES Group last November.