Slovakia: The Progressives and the Liberals alike desire equality in the European Parliament, however, they differ when it comes to hate as a euro-crime


According to SaS, (ECR), the matters of equality do not fall into the EU scope of authority, a conviction that the party shares with KDH (Christian Democrats, EPP). This is shown by the analysis of EURACTIV Slovensko, in which the online portal inquired the parties about the definition of rape, hatred as a euro-crime and the rights of the rainbow families.

This article is part of the EURACTIV Slovakia Special: Euro Elections 2024: Analysis of programmes and attitudes of political parties.

Rainbow flag next to the EP buildings - International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia

Update from 24th May, SaS has requested a modification of its position. In the original version of the text, it answered all three questions with "rather disagree".

Both the Progresívne Slovensko (PS, Renew Europe) as well as Sloboda a solidarita (abbreviated as SaS) advocate equality of rights in the run-up to the European elections. However, the difference between the parties becomes more salient when it comes to recognition of hate crime. This is one of the conclusions of the analysis of party election programs, statements and voting in the European Parliament, which was performed by EURACTIV Slovensko, the online portal.

While the progressive party say in their answers to the questions that they would support a uniform definition of rape, cross-border recognition of parenthood as well as the inclusion of hate crimes among the so-called euro-crimes, SaS "fairly disagree" in their answer to the latter of these questions. It is the party’s opinion, this topic should not be addressed at the European level.

In this regard, it finds agreement with the Christian Democrats in KDH and the Republika movement (no affiliation). However, these are the parties that also typically vote against resolutions that promote equal rights for LGBTI+ people.

The analysis also shows that SaS puts great emphasis on assessing the effectiveness of projects implemented for marginalized communities. For this reason, liberals even abstain from the vote on these matters in the European Parliament.

When it comes to the equality of people with disabilities, there is agreement across the entire political spectrum. However, only SaS, who are the only party to have a more elaborate program in this regard, comments on the topic in more detail.

This year, the Smer (PES – suspended membership), and Hlas (without MEPs and non-affiliated) parties did not respond to the inquiry by EURACTIV Slovakia. When looking at Smer, one can at least review their voting history. The political program of Hlas remains an unknown.

Interestingly, Smer’s MEPs voted in favour of most of the rainbow resolutions in the previous parliamentary term, which comes a little odd as the politicians from Smer have been known to voice significantly negative attitudes towards the LGBTI+ community in the past.

Sex without consent? Rape

The shaping of a common European definition of rape as a sexual act without consent remains an unfinished EU initiative in the women's equality agenda. Several member countries, including Slovakia, condition the legal definition of rape, e.g. with the presence of physical violence or its threat. Moreover, according to the official definition, women are the only potential victims of rape in Slovakia.

The concept of a common European definition was left out from the European version of the Istanbul Convention, as only 13 member states supported it. However, it is possible the proposal will be put on the negotiating table again.

Definition of rape

Progresívne Slovensko supports this idea saying that they are also trying to push through such a definition at the national level.

Update from 24th May:

SaS supports the enforcement of this definition in Slovakia. "We believe it is right that the European Parliament is going to pass the legal definition of rape by considering rape as sex without consent. This is in line with our programme," the party said.

Republika answered “No”, claiming there is no reason why this topic should be addressed at the European level. KDH also opposes the idea while referring to a legal analysis that states that the EU does not even have competence for taking such a step.

However, various stakeholders present different legal interpretations in this respect. KDH refers to an advisory legal analysis for the EU Council. However, the legal analysis of the European Parliament concludes that the EU could include rape on the list of euro-crimes and, on the basis of this step, it indeed could adopt a common definition. The Progressives also advocate for this approach.

Neither Smer nor Hlas parties answered the questions.

Parent in one EU country, parent in all of them

European Union exercises only limited competence in family policy. Any change in this area would require the consent of every single EU member state.

The only realistic proposal in the field of LGBTI+ rights at the moment is the pursuit of cross-border legal recognition of parenthood. European Commission has put forward this proposal, stating that rainbow families today do not have the same right to live in any EU country in situations when other Member States do not recognise their parenthood that was in fact acknowledged in their country of origin.

Recognition of parenthood

Among the analysed parties, Progresívne Slovensko clearly supported this proposal. "We believe it is unacceptable when, by mere crossing of the border of some (member) states, a child loses the legal protection ensured on the basis of a lawfully anchored relationship with the child’s parents, or perhaps one of them," the progressive party stated.

Update  24th May:

Sloboda a Solidarita answered “Yes“ also to this concept and points out that its MEP Eugen Jurzyca also voted in favour this proposal.

Politicians from both KDH and Republika strongly oppose this concept. "Of course, the issuance of documents or handling of administrative acts in cross-border cases justifying the draft regulation on the recognition of parenthood must be ensured," add the Christian Democrats referring to the fact that in doing so the EU can use its existing tools.

In a recent ruling against Bulgaria, the Court of Justice of the EU said that the country is obligated to issue a travel document to a girl who has two mothers, one of whom is Bulgarian, regardless of which of the women is the biological mother. Bulgaria did not comply with the decision.

However, this decision will not help in any situation other than travel. Rainbow families who would like to move to Slovakia would still not have the right of inheritance or the possibility to view their partner's medical records. This would be addressed by the proposal for cross-border legal recognition of parenthood, including additional rights in education or guardianship.

Smer did not respond to questions from EURACTIV Slovensko. Smer's MEP Monika Beňová abstained from voting on the report on the European recognition of parenthood. Katarína Roth Neveďalová, another Smer MEP, voted against.

Hatred as a euro-crime

An initiative that could increase protection for multiple groups facing attacks is the inclusion of hate speech and hate crime among the so-called euro-crimes. This could help to harmonise their investigation and prosecution across the entire EU.

The European Commission put this idea on the table already in 2021. However, Member States have not adopted this concept.

The initiative could increase the protection of LGBTI+ people, for example, of whom, one in ten have experienced hateful attacks, according to surveys. Roma respondents also said they experienced higher rates of hate-driven violence, moreover, up to 88 percent of such attacks go unreported.

People who are simultaneously members of more than one minority groups are at particular risk – for example, non-white women face up to 84 percent higher likelihood of being mentioned in offensive or "problematic" posts on the X network (former Twitter).

According to data from Spain, one in five hate crimes is committed against people with disabilities.

Hate speech among EU crimes


The only party supporting this initiative is PS.

SaS answered "rather disagree", referring to the on the vote of its MEP Eugen Jurzyca: "The authors drafting the legislation failed to provide sufficient justification of the need for regulation at European level, so it is questionable whether harmonisation would be effective and contribute to reducing hate crime in the EU," the party explains.

KDH answers “No” because, according to the party, there is a risk of "interference with freedom of expression and self-censorship of citizens based on fear and concern". Republika also responded in the negative.

"Turning criticism and the subsequent 'feeling of being harmed‘ into a reason for criminal prosecution is unacceptable," Republika explains in their answer.

Promoting equal rights for the LGBTI+ communities

MEPs can further show their support for the LGBTI+ community by voting in favour of resolutions calling on member states and non-EU countries to show more respect.

Support for LGBTI+ I


Support for LGBTI+ II

MEPs from PS upheld all such resolutions in the previous parliamentary term.

SMER and  SaS have an even score when it comes to voting for the so-called rainbow resolutions. Both parties supported four resolutions while their MEPs remained divided when voting on one other resolution.

In both cases, it was a vote on public discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI+ people.

Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, who later left the SaS party, voted in favour of the motion, but Eugen Jurzyca abstained from the vote because, according to his opinion, the proposal contained interference with "the competences of Member States in cultural matters".

In the SMER party, the MEP and leader of the 2024 candidate list, Monika Beňová voted in support of the resolution, while Miroslav Číž, another SMER MEP, who passed away in 2022, had abstained from the vote.

MEPs for KDH and Republika did not uphold a single resolution to support LGBTI+ rights.

The Hlas party did not respond to the questions sent by EURACTIV Slovensko. Although in the September campaign for the general elections, the party's leader Peter Pellegrini warned against hate speech aimed at the LGBTI+ community, in the description of the shared video, he labelled the efforts to address these topics as an "artificial problem".

Promoting equal rights for the people of Roma origin

Integration of Roma people

When voting on resolutions criticizing discrimination against Roma and the situation in the Roma marginalized communities, Slovak MEPs display greater consensus.

The report on the implementation of national Roma integration strategies and combating negative attitudes towards people of Roma origin in Europe was supported by as many as ten Slovak MEPs. Milan Uhrík from Republika was opposed and two other MEPs abstained. The first of them was Eugen Jurzyca from SaS.

"The draft proposes that a new Roma Equality and Inclusion Directive be adopted. I do appreciate the fact that the draft aims to establish binding requirements concerning overall progress, however, I am afraid that the inaccurate goals will again cause that money will be allocated to projects that only represent wishful thinking and 10 years later, we will find ourselves exactly where we are now," Jurzyca explained his vote.

Ivan Štefanec from KDH (EPP) also abstained but expressed support for Roma inclusion in his explanation.

The situation was similar for the 2022 motion concerning the resolution on the situation of Roma living in marginalized Roma communities accrss the EU. The report was a reaction to the visit of a delegation of the European Parliament to Slovakia.

"I do not agree with the proposal that is preventing access to all EU funds for local governments, which have so far been unable to deal with the issue of socially excluded groups of population" emphasised Jurzyca who abstained from the vote again. He also opposed the idea of allocating money for projects "without emphasis on results and efficiency". As an example, he mentioned projects for digital education of Roma living in (marginalized) communities and investments in digital infrastructure (in these communities).

Promoting equal rights for the people with disabilities

There was agreement almost across the entire political spectrum when it came to the resolutions on the European Disability Card and on the European Strategy for People with Disabilities after 2020. Only the MEP Miroslav Radačovský (Slovenský patriot, non-attached) abstained from vote.

Candidate lists and election programs

The two analysed parties – SaS and PS – have a 47 percent share of women on their candidate lists. However, there are two other parties where women are the lead candidates: Smer with Monika Beňová and KDH with Miriam Lexmann.

Although the candidate for the Hlas party, Ján Ferenčák, spoke in the European Parliament in support of gender equality, stating that "the participation of women in all aspects of public and political life will strengthen and protect democracy", there are only four women out of fifteen candidates on the list of his party and the first of the female candidate only comes fourth.

Only SaS presented a detailed election program in this election term. The liberals want to promote equal working conditions for women after returning from parental or maternity leave, better work-life balance, and the elimination of discrimination against mothers in the calculation of old-age pensions.

In their program, SaS also included the need for an audit and regular review of the effectiveness of funds spent on marginalized Roma communities.

SaS also addresses the topic of equality of people with disabilities. First of all, it identifies the missing and incomparable data between individual Member States as a major challenge. However, it considers employer quotas to be an inefficient solution. Here, too, the party emphasizes the effectiveness of the implemented measures.


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