LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Why ILGA-Europe supports the proposed Anti-Discrimination Directive

The proposed anti-discrimination Directive currently identifies four different grounds that will be protected from discrimination in the areas of social protection, education, and access to goods and services. The protected grounds are religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation. ILGA-Europe supports this multi-ground approach for several reasons.

These grounds are the same grounds protected in the Framework Directive for equal treatment in employment and occupation (2000/78/EC). By passing a Directive that extends protection from discrimination based on these grounds in the areas of life mentioned above, the European Union brings its anti-discrimination legislation in harmony. Currently, the Race Directive protects European citizens from discrimination in all the areas of life.

Instead of having a hierarchy of rights among the different grounds that are protected in the EU, ILGA-Europe advocates for a holistic and inclusive anti-discrimination law that protects all vulnerable groups from bias in all areas of life.

ILGA-Europe supports the proposed Directive for the following reasons:

  • To protect against forms of discrimination that take place on a daily basis

A growing body of academic and community-based research shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual people across the EU face discrimination in access to social protection, health care and services, education, housing, goods and services, among other areas.

Legislation is an important and indispensable pre-condition to address sexual orientation discrimination, and other grounds of discrimination. Non-legislative measures are rarely effective unless they are underpinned with binding and enforceable rights, especially when dealing with forms of discrimination which are not yet “socially accepted” as legitimate.

  • To end a de facto hierarchy of rights at European level

The grounds of race and gender enjoy stronger protection in EU law than the grounds of sexual orientation, age, disability, religion and belief. This “hierarchy” is contrary to international obligations under human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 26) and the European Convention on Human Rights (article 14)

This new EU directive would ensure that five grounds of discrimination are treated equally in European law. However, beyond this directive, there will be a need to fill the gap in protection against discrimination on the ground of gender which is not prohibited in education.

  • To harmonise protection against discrimination throughout the EU

A single comprehensive law covering age, disability, religion and belief, and sexual orientation would provide a coherent, transparent and understandable body of law with regard to non-discrimination.

It would provide legal clarity for businesses, as well as citizens. Everyone would know the minimum applicable standards of non-discrimination wherever they are.

A new law would also allow for freedom of movement of workers and employers where unequal protection may act as a disincentive to move to certain Member States.