The Égalité Committee has been working closely with the European Commission over the past years to resolve a number of issues some of our colleagues have been having with regard to medical reimbursements and work-life balance provisions, while at the same time working to help create a more inclusive working environment.
Since our meeting with member of the European Commission, Mr. Oettinger on these issues in February 2017, the cooperation has intensified and the Égalité Committee was consulted during the preparation of the Communication to the Commission: A better work place for all: from equal opportunities towards diversity and inclusion.
The Commission adopted the communication on 19 July 2017. The Égalité Committee is pleased with the content, especially as the communication calls for creating “a culture where everybody is valued and respected”, and putting in place “targeted measures” that enable LGBTI staff “to feel comfortable and confident to be open about their LGBTI identity and hence fully participate in the social dimension of the workplace”, It also calls for an active exchange of information and good practices with international companies and public administrations, which reflects member of the Commission, Mr. Oettinger’s view that the Commission should lead by example towards both the other EU institutions and the administrations of the Member States.
The Commission, under one of the envisaged action points, declares that it will ensure that managers are trained specifically to prevent discrimination and bias in relation to LGBTI staff, that it will continue organising central staff awareness-raising events on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), and that it will pursue a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination and harassment.
The Commission also states its commitment to support representative organisations of LGBTI staff by offering logistic support where necessary and providing them with a platform on the Commission’s intranet site.
Benjamin Desurmont (DG COMP), President of ÉGALITÉ, the association for LGBTI staff of the EU Institutions, said: “The Communication, by recognising the multiple facets of diversity, sets the path for an ambitious Action Plan. This will give the Commission the capacity to be at the forefront of public administrations on the matter.”
The Égalité Committee is looking forward to continuing its good cooperation with member of the Commission, Mr. Oettinger and will be pleased to support any specific actions for implementing the communication.
The Commission has replied to Égalité’s letter concerning discrimination with regard to the reimbursement of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) costs and the request for granting leave equivalent to maternity or adoption leave to gay men when having a child born through surrogacy. On IVF costs, the Commission rejects our arguments that lesbian colleagues undergoing IVF treatment are being discriminated against when having to demonstrate a “proven pathology of the male person of the couple” in order for these costs to be reimbursed. The Commission argues that the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS) can only reimburse “the medical expenses of its beneficiaries resulting from illness, accidents and confinement”. In this regard, lesbian couples would qualify for reimbursement if there should be “a fertility issue of the beneficiary/ies of the JSIS in a female couple, or any other woman with or without a male partner”.
The reply from the Commission did however bring good news as well: the Commission is currently revising the Decision on Leave, and in this context promised to “critically appraise” our request for introducing an adoption leave for gay men having children born through surrogacy that would be equivalent to current maternity and adoption leave provisions. The Decision is scheduled to be adopted by the end of the year.
For those of you having children through surrogacy already in the course of this year, please contact the Egalité Committee so we can assist you with preparation of your request.
On the picture: Commissioner Oettinger and the President of ÉGALITÉ
On 28 June 2017 in Brussels, European Commissioners Bienkowska, Malmström and Oettinger participated in the third European Equality Gala organised by ILGA Europe. The gala was aimed at celebrating the courage of LGBTI activists across Europe and it was the occasion for the Commissioners to exchange views with various association representatives.
This past Saturday Egalité, Queer Stagiaires and Stand up for Europe Bruxelles jointly participated at 2017 Belgian Pride under the name “Europe – United in Diversity”. We are proud to say that our group was one of the largest at the Pride with several hundreds of participants.
You can see pictures from the event here:
And for more of the atmosphere please follow this link:
Huge thanks to Stand up for Europe and especially our energetic team in Queer Stagiaires!
Over 120 colleagues will join the Egalite-Queer Stagiaires-Stand up for Europe group at the Belgian Pride this Sunday, 20 May. Please join us and let’s celebrate diversity together!
For more information please visit our facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/events/1268066839940908/