Between Sisyphus and the Danaïdes? The European Union’s Efforts to Promote and Protect the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons in its Eastern Neighbourhood

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Series Details No.4, September 2016
Publication Date September 2016
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The EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies department of the College of Europe publishes a series of working papers dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the European Union’s external relations and external aspects of EU internal policies. The EU Diplomacy Papers offer a platform for debate to visiting professors, staff and students as well as external contributors.In recent years, there have been accentuated efforts by the European Union (EU) to integrate the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons into the universalist and indivisible epistemological underpinnings of its external action. The most emasculated form of these efforts are the Council’s 2013 LGBTI Guidelines. This paper examines the effectiveness of the EU’s efforts to promote and protect the universal human rights of LGBTI persons in two European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, Georgia and Ukraine.

It is argued that the EU’s normative proclivity to uphold the human rights of LGBTI persons in these countries have been significantly atrophied. Its commitment has been beset by a number of interconnected factors, confounded with, and conditioned by, both exogenous and endogenous constraints. Moreover, there is the unfortunate contemporaneous geopolitical conjuncture with the Russian Federation. The EU’s various diplomatic initiatives, certain financing and capacity-building measures struggle to transcend to the more tangible sectoral areas of most salience to LGBTI persons. In addition to the regional particularities making localised action plans more salient to the realities of civil society, it would be equally perspicacious to lift the application of the LGBTI Guidelines to a more systematic level in the EU Delegations.

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