Joint Statement: Milestone for trans and intersex rights in Europe

ILGA-Europe, TGEU, OII Europe, IGLYO and EL*C jointly welcome the inclusion of SOGIGESC grounds in new EU Directive on minimum standards for equality bodies

On 7 May 2024, two new directives on minimum standards for equality bodies were officially adopted by the EU. One of the directives includes in its recitals and articles the grounds of gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics in addition to sexual orientation. This marks the first time sex characteristics have been mentioned explicitly in an EU directive, and the second time gender identity and gender expression have been mentioned in an EU directive.1 This is an important milestone for the protection of LGBTI people in EU legislation, and follows two years of joint advocacy on these directives by OII Europe, TGEU, ILGA-Europe, EL*C and IGLYO.

The two new directives amend existing EU laws in order to add provisions to strengthen the role and independence of equality bodies in the EU, setting minimum standards regarding their mandates, tasks, independence, structure, powers, accessibility and resources. Both directives are subject to EU primary law including the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR). Article 19 TFEU and Article 21 CFR include sexual orientation in the list of protected grounds against discrimination, therefore both new directives cover the grounds of sexual orientation as regards the mandates of equality bodies in the EU.

However, we need to go beyond this to properly address the reality of discrimination. Limiting equality bodies’ mandates to working only on the grounds of discrimination explicitly named in the EU treaties means that many causes of discrimination are left out, remaining unrecognised and therefore not properly addressed. In the case of LGBTI people, who face discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics (or a combination of these grounds), not including gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in the mandates of equality bodies means that equality bodies cannot properly address discrimination faced by trans and intersex people. In a time when discrimination against LGBTI people is on the rise, this is a welcome move.

Together, OII Europe, TGEU, ILGA-Europe, EL*C and IGLYO advocated for references to the grounds of gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics to be included in both new directives.

Directive 2022/0401 amends directives in the field of equal treatment between persons irrespective of their racial or ethnic origin, equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation between persons irrespective of their religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, equal treatment between women and men in matters of social security and the access to and supply of goods and services. This new directive required unanimous agreement in the EU Council. Despite references to gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics being included in the text proposed by the European Parliament, due to opposition from a small number of EU countries, these references did not make it into the final text.

However, for the second Directive, the references did make it into the final agreed text. Directive 2022/0400 amends existing Directives 2006/54/EC and 2010/41/EU which cover the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, including self-employment. This directive required qualified majority voting in the EU Council. Therefore, the references to the grounds of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics were included in the adopted text, in the context of the definition of a victim of discrimination:

Recital 23

“In addition to prevention, a central task of equality bodies is to provide assistance to victims of discrimination. Victims should be understood to encompass all persons who consider that they have experienced discrimination as referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2006/54/EC or in Article 4 of Directive 2010/41/EU, irrespective, for example, of their socio-economic status, political opinion, age, health, nationality, residence status, language, colour, level of literacy, gender, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.”

Article 6

“Member States shall ensure that equality bodies are able to provide assistance to victims as set out in paragraphs 2 to 4. For the purposes of this Directive, ‘victims’ mean all persons, irrespective, for example, of their socio-economic status, political opinion, age, health, nationality, residence status, language, colour, level of literacy, gender, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, who consider that they have experienced discrimination within the meaning of Article 4 of Directive 2006/54/EC or Article 4 of Directive 2010/41/EU.”

What’s next?

This achievement marks a milestone in the recognition of trans and intersex people in EU legislation and policy-making, and will contribute to further protection against discrimination for LGBTI people by equality bodies across the EU. We also extend our thanks to Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies, which led a successful campaign on these directives and supported our calls for the inclusion of the grounds of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, based on the reality of discrimination against LGBTI people in the EU, as well as existing EU policy, legislation, and decisions of the EU Court of Justice. We will now work together with relevant authorities on the effective transposition of the equality bodies directives and we will continue to advocate for more comprehensive protection for LGBTI people in EU policy and legislation.

  1. The first mention was in the Victims’ Rights Directive, 2012/29 ↩︎
Source

Photo source: Guillaume Périgois

See also

Blog

EU Election results: The challenges & opportunities

Today we dive into the mixed results of the European Elections, the shift to the far right in national elections, and the potential impact of […]
read more
News

European court hears landmark case on trans rights in Hungary

The Court of Justice of the European Union held a significant hearing today concerning legal gender recognition for trans people in Hungary Today, the Court […]
read more
Blog

Navigating Equality: Unveiling the 2024 Rainbow Map

In the dynamic world of human rights advocacy, working together is essential. Last week marked a significant event of mass collaboration – the release of […]
read more
News

Joint statement: “Building an inclusive European Union of Equality”

We noted the advances in Equality which have been made by the European Union during this mandate. The appointment of the first-ever Commissioner for Equality […]
read more
Blog

A new roadmap for advancing the human rights of trans and non-binary people

A brand new Issue Paper from the Council of Europe on Human Rights and Gender Identity and Expression not only sheds light on the challenges […]
read more
Report

Intersections: The LGBTI II Survey – Homelessness Analysis

Disaggregated data, which can look deeply into the lived experiences of marginalised people, is a key demand of LGBTI and other human rights groups. With […]
read more
News

New draft law in Hungary seeks to exculde trans women from pension benefits

Dear President of the European Commission, We are writing concerning the recent introduction of a new bill in the Hungarian Parliament to further curtail the […]
read more
Report

Intersections: The LGBTI II Survey – Trans and Non-binary Analysis

Disaggregated data, which can look deeply into the lived experiences of marginalised people, is a key demand of LGBTI and other human rights groups. With […]
read more
News

Statement on today’s vote to ban legal gender recognition in Russia

ILGA-Europe issue this public statement to express our support to and solidarity with trans and gender diverse people in Russia in the light of the […]
read more
Blog

Intersex people are among the most vulnerable among the LGBTI population, study finds

A new report from ILGA-Europe in association with OII Europe finds that Intersex people experience some of the highest levels of discrimination and marginalisation of all groups surveyed in the most recent cross-European LGBTI study.
read more
Report

Intersections: The LGBTI II Survey – Intersex Analysis

Disaggregated data, which can look deeply into the lived experiences of marginalised people, is a key demand of LGBTI and other human rights groups. With […]
read more
News

Call to criminalise intersex genital mutilation in the EU

ILGA-Europe are urging the EU to criminalise the practice of IGM against intersex people, particularly intersex women and girls, as part of the proposal for […]
read more
Podcast

The Frontline: Trans Inclusion in the Women’s Movement

In this episode of The Frontline, specially released on Trans Day of Visibility, we’re looking at trans inclusion in the women’s movement. All too often […]
read more
Press Release

Romanian transgender man’s landmark case requesting that Romania acknowledges his UK gender recognition referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Arian Mirzarafie-Ahi, a transgender man with Romanian and British citizenship, has filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in Romania against Romanian authorities over their refusal to recognize […]
read more
Blog

For good and bad: The trending impacts on LGBTI human rights in Europe and Central Asia

The most striking finding of ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review 2023 is a stark rise in the ferocity of anti-LGBTI hate and violence reported in Europe and Central Asia. But alongside this worrying trend, there are positive developments in areas such as legal gender recognition, public support, intersex human rights and civil society. Here are the key highlights.
read more
Blog

#TDoR2022: Two more European countries added to annual report on trans murders

This year, for the first time, Estonia and Switzerland reported the murders of trans people. In total, 2022 saw 327 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people in the world as a result of anti-trans violence, according to TGEU’s Trans Murder Monitoring. Although TGEU has been collecting information since 2008, most trans murders still go under-reported.
read more
Blog

How activism led the way forward to protect intersex children in Greece

To mark #IntersexAwarenessWeeks we look into the efforts and experiences of activists in Greece, who worked for many months alongside the national government, resulting in the country becoming just the fifth in the world to ban intersex genital mutilations on children.
read more
Blog

Activists on Accession to the EU

Although achieving EU membership can take several years, even decades, the accession process can already have a positive impact in LGBTI people in a candidate country. We speak to activists in the latest candidates, Ukraine and Moldova, and from Montenegro, which has been a candidate since 2010.
read more
Blog

Children born intersex are at risk in most European countries. Here’s why

ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Map of the legal situation for LGBTI people in Europe has a brand-new category: Intersex Bodily Integrity. It’s an essential expansion, because in across Europe and Central Asia, intersex people, and especially children, are still at risk.
read more
Blog

Rainbow Europe Map shows countries pushing forward with LGBTI rights as democracy is confronted

Our brand new Rainbow Map shows steps forward in LGBTI rights in several countries, spelling out that equality is at the core of democracy in Europe. But while some are pushing forward, others continue to instrumentalise LGBTI discrimination to erode freedom.
read more
Report

Briefing Document: Ukraine war – Medications needed by trans and intersex people

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has resulted in need for immediate action to address the needs both of a significant population of Ukrainians fleeing the […]
read more
Blog

Trans Day of Visibility 2022: Here’s what you absolutely should know about trans communities from Ukraine

It’s March 31, Trans Day of Visibility. To mark this day, at ILGA-Europe we want to commend the amazing work trans-led organisations are doing as the war in Ukraine continues, and tell you about the current needs of trans communities staying or leaving the country.
read more
Blog

A Marathon, not a sprint: how we’re responding to the invasion of Ukraine

In the past week, since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the global response has been massive, alongside a great number of organisations working with […]
read more
Blog

Alarming new research shows how LGBTI people are affected every day by inequality

Recent data shows that LGBTI young people perceive the labour market with fear and that most of LGBTI youth living with their families have experienced violence in different parts of Europe. These are among the alarming facts related to the impact of inequality and oppression in LGBTI communities, as identified through ILGA-Europe’s No One Left Behind initiative.
read more
Blog

Say Their Names: The trans and gender diverse people whose murders were reported in Europe and Central Asia last year

The murders of 375 trans and gender-diverse people were reported between October 2020 and September 2021, according to the latest Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) update, and 2021 is set to be the deadliest year for trans communities since TGEU began collecting data. We say the names of those whose lives were cut short in our region, with a view towards a world where all trans people can live in equality, freedom and peace.
read more
Blog

How trans parents are better protected after European Court ruling

Recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of a trans woman in Russia who was denied access to her children because of her gender identity and transition. Read on to find out how this may benefit all trans and LGBTI parents in Europe.
read more
Blog

Where are my rights? These essential maps chart the recognition of LGBTI people across the globe

Every year, ILGA-Europe publishes our Rainbow Map, charting LGBTI rights in 49 European countries. But we’re not the only benchmarking map on the scene. From sexual orientation laws in the world to inclusive churches in Europe, these charts depict the state of LGBTI rights and more across the world.
read more
Press Release

LGBTI organisations welcome European Court judgement in favour of trans parental rights in Russia

Today, in a landmark judgement strongly welcomed by TGEU and ILGA-Europe, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of a woman in […]
read more
Podcast

The Frontline: Mapping LGBTI Rights in Europe

Every year, Rainbow Europe ranks all 49 European countries based on the laws and policies in each to ensure equal rights and protection for LGBTI […]
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 6: The Future

ILGA-Europe’s advocacy director, Katrin Hugendubel and Björn Sieverding from the Network of European LGBTIQ Families explore the issues coming down the line in terms of […]
read more