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Michael Cashman (United Kingdom)

MEPs speak out on dementia

Michael Cashman (United Kingdom) talks to Alzheimer Europe about the key problems faced by gay and lesbian carers (December 2008)

Alzheimer Europe: Mr. Cashman, as President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, what do you consider to be the key problems that gay and lesbian carers experience?

Michael Cashman

Michael Cashman: They key problems faced are that some countries and some service providers fail to take our families seriously. We have achieved equality in some countries but by no means all. Equality is our goal and that is where visibility is the key. When people see the role that we play in society and how common it is to the role played by others in similar situations so the case for prejudice begins to fail. I have always said that we are ordinary women and men made extraordinary by society's preoccupation with what they think our sex lives are. They air brush our lives and seek to define us solely by sexual activity. L G carers demonstrate so heroically how we face the same problems but the problems are aggravated by mind numbing discrimination.

AE: Are there marked differences between European countries as to the situation of gay and lesbian carers?

MC: As stated above there are marked differences, especially where the role of religion is dominant in politics. But that will not stop me and the Inter-group of the European Parliament from pursuing our achievable aim of equality, dignity, respect. These are Universal values and certainly values upheld by the Treaties of the European Union. It is incredible that one can suffer discriminatory care merely because of where on lives in the EU.

AE: What can gay and lesbian carers expect from the draft Commission directive providing protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation?

MC: The Directive before the EP, which I led the battle for - and it was battle to get it from the Commission, but it was another battle that with single minded determination we won - will substantially improve the lives for gay and lesbian carers. In the supply of good ands services no longer will Countries be allowed to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation (as well as age, religion or belief, disability or a combination of these). Some countries will still be better than others but there should be minimum standards which will be legally enforceable. There is a big BUT. We have to get this agreed by the 27 member states of the EU and currently some are proving problematic, like Germany, Ireland and the Czech republic.

AE: Are there any other EU legislative initiatives that aim at improving the lives of gay and lesbian carers?

MC: At the moment there are no other specific initiatives aimed at improving the lives of lesbian and gay carers but if anyone has any ideas on what we should be doing then let me know.

Remember our goal is equality. We WILL achieve it. But the price of freedom and equality is eternal vigilance. And if no one believes me just remember that lesbian and gay people in the United Kingdom were targeted in the late 1980´s not by grand political Bills or specific pieces of legislation, but by stealth. Section 28 which undermined lesbian and gay lives was introduced as an amendment at the Committee stage in the House of Commons in a Bill on Local Government.



Last Updated: Wednesday 14 October 2009