LGBT+ activists fear far-right rise in EU elections

The rise of far-right parties across the European Union is a threat to LGBT+ rights, activists said, as voters prepared for elections this week after a campaign characterized by homophobic rhetoric in some countries.

An alliance of far-right parties launched by Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, who said last year he would “defend the natural family” from same-sex couples, is forecast to become the fourth-biggest in the European Parliament.

While the main centre-right and centre-left political groups are likely to stay the largest alliances in the parliament, they are both predicted to lose seats in the elections, which take place from Thursday to Sunday.

“Politicians are using (LGBT+ rights) as a wedge issue,” said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, a regional LGBT+ rights advocacy group.

“The wave of populism... even when it’s not targeting the LGBTI community specifically, contributes to and fuels a toxic, divisive social climate,” she said. “In many countries we see an increase in violence and LGBT-phobic crimes.”

Many campaigners cited Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has characterized gay and transgender rights as a danger to children and traditional values, saying LGBT+ people had replaced migrants as a scapegoat to rally their base. Read more via Reuters