European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

ILGA-Europe welcomes EU Commission’s proposal for a single anti-discrimination directive...

Today (02.07.08) Vladimír Špidla, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, announced the Commission’s proposal for a single EU anti-discrimination directive which provides for protection from discrimination on grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief in areas other than employment.

This new directive would ensure equal treatment in the areas of social protection, including social security and health care, education and access to and supply of goods and services which are commercially available to the public, including housing.

ILGA-Europe has been campaigning for a single anti-discrimination directive and welcomes the Commission’s proposal which, when adopted, will end the hierarchy of rights and protections in the EU. ILGA-Europe welcomes that fact that the scope of the proposed directive is identical to the scope of the EU directives protecting against discrimination on the grounds of race. Currently, discrimination on the ground of race enjoys the highest protection in EU legislation compared to other grounds of discrimination, such as gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief. ILGA-Europe is particularly pleased to see that the proposed directive covers such areas as education. We also welcome the proposal to introduce Equality Bodies in all EU member states which would have a mandate to work on all grounds of discrimination.

At the same time, ILGA-Europe is concerned about various provisions of the proposed directive which might undermine application of the principles of equality and non-discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the European Union. In particular, we are concerned with the fact that the proposed directive leaves out protection against differential treatment on the basis of marital/family status and in the area of reproductive rights. Introducing an exception to the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination on the grounds of marital/family status will result in discrimination for many LGBT families and their children across the EU in accessing social protection, goods and services. Discrimination and consequent disadvantages experienced by LGBT families and their children were particularly highlighted as a serious cause for concern in a report published by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency on 30 June 2008.

The other area of concern is that gender will become the ground that is the least protected from discrimination in EU legislation. Currently, discrimination on the ground of gender is prohibited in such areas as employment and access to goods and services, but not in areas like education. ILGA-Europe hopes that the Commission will propose and commit to a timeline to address the remaining inequality of rights and protections in the nearest future.

Deborah Lambillotte, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:
“We warmly welcome the Commission’s proposal. We also hope that the EU member states will follow the Commission and deliver to people in the EU what they deserve and are entitled to – respect, dignity and equality. By levelling up the rights and protections from discrimination, the EU will close an important gap in its equality and non-discrimination legislation. It will prove that these principles are not just empty words of political correctness inserted into the Treaties, but mean that the EU is serious when it comes to any type of discrimination. We express our concerns and would like to invite all EU institutions to address the remaining flaws to ensure that equality and non-discrimination principles contained in the EU Treaties are translated into meaningful and effective mechanisms for all people in the EU.”

For more information please contact:

Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org

(2) Further information about the Commission’s proposal is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=373&furthe...

(3) The Fundamental Rights Agency’s media release on their report “Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I” Legal Analysis and the report itself are available at: http://fra.europa.eu/fra/index.php?fuseaction=content.dsp_cat_content&ca...

(4) ILGA-Europe’s campaign on a single EU anti-discrimination directive on our website: http://www.ilga-europe.org/europe/campaigns_projects/campaign_for_a_new_...