Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament has blasted potential accession state Armenia for its failure to adequately protect and support its LGBTI community.
Speaking ahead of Scotland’s biggest Pride festival tomorrow Mr Smith said:
“Armenia is keen to become an EU member, but at present, their human rights record just doesn’t cut it. The EU is about improving human rights and safeguarding personal freedoms as much as it is about anything else and Armenia has no protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I’m delighted that the European Commission has now made it crystal clear that there is no leeway for countries that want to join the EU – protection of minorities is non-negotiable and respect for rights, including gay rights is an absolute condition of EU membership.
“If Armenia wants to join that organisation of nations and take advantage of all the benefits that brings then it will have to start coming up with some advances in rights protections.
“Prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity would be a start and then recognising that gender reorientation isn’t something alien but giving people the ability to live in a degree of comfort might be a decent next step. I realise that recognising same-sex partnerships is a big step for any nation – look at the long and winding road we’ve walked and are walking in Scotland – but there are steps that really are basics for simple decency in the modern Europe.
“I agree with my Austrian colleague Ulrike Lunacek that we have to have co-operation instead of confrontation, openness instead of fear. Armenia can walk towards a more inclusive society as it walks towards the friendship of nations that is the EU but it must walk that way.
“While we’re lecturing them, though, we should look to our own nation and make sure that we’re making progress, the hypocrisy of telling others they should do better while standing still ourselves would be shameful. Armenia may be some way behind us at the moment but that doesn’t mean we’re perfect. I think we’ve made some progress and I’m looking forward to making a whole lot more.”