Pride - An open letter

THIS YEAR marks the 41st anniversary of the birth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights movement, which seeks to end discrimination – and sometimes persecution – against the LGBT community. Every year, our governments support the rights of individuals to hold Pride events throughout the world around this time, and that is why we support the first ever Pride march organised by the LGBT community in Slovakia on May 22.

THIS YEAR marks the 41st anniversary of the birth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights movement, which seeks to end discrimination – and sometimes persecution – against the LGBT community. Every year, our governments support the rights of individuals to hold Pride events throughout the world around this time, and that is why we support the first ever Pride march organised by the LGBT community in Slovakia on May 22.

Our nations came by different paths to recognise gay rights as fundamental rights. Last year, for example, US President Obama issued a proclamation on LGBT month that outlined not only the progress the United States has made, but how far the United States still has to go to ensure that the human rights of LGBT individuals are protected. In the first year of his administration, President Obama started by outlawing discrimination in the workplace, supporting civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples, and ensuring adoption rights.

LGBT rights have also advanced in Europe. Today, EU membership not only requires the repeal of anti-homosexuality legislation, but also the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation by all member states. Several countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden have legalised gay marriage, while others, including Denmark, Finland, UK, France and Germany, and Slovakia’s neighbours the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary have legislated for civil partnerships.

The taboo of being gay and in public office is becoming a thing of the past. In many European countries public positions are held by people who are openly gay or lesbian.
Here in Slovakia, LGBT citizens enjoy all the legal guarantees that come with EU membership. However, as is often the case, what is written in laws is not always practiced. As international observers, we are surprised by the harsh rhetoric sometimes used against the LGBT community in public. That’s why we will be supporting the LGBT Pride parade in Bratislava on May 22.

This is not about religious beliefs, which should be respected, but about a simple demonstration of human rights.

We believe the human rights of all citizens should be respected. We do not ask anyone to abandon their principles in the public debate that occurs in any democracy. But we believe that everyone should have the right to peaceably support their perspective without fear of retribution.

H.E. Jorgen Munk Rasmussen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark
H. E. Jukka Leino, Ambassador of Finland
H. E. Kathryn Coll, Ambassador of Ireland
H. E. Daphne Bergsma, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
H. E. Trine Skymoen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway
H. E. Mikael Westerlind, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden
H. E. Michael Roberts, Ambassador of the United Kingdom
Georges Lemieux, Chargé d’affaires, Office of the Embassy of Canada
Reinhard Wiemer, Chargé d'affaires, Embassy of Germany
Keith Eddins, Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of the United States of America

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