LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

EU LGBTI Strategy 2020-2024: Key EU legislative and policy initiatives for LGBTI rights in Europe and beyond - Proposal by ILGA-Europe

The policy brief presents concrete proposals of legislative and policy initiatives to be included in the EU LGBTI Strategy. 

April 2020

In today’s European Union, discrimination and inequality continue to be widespread, undermining social cohesion and fundamental EU values. There has undoubtedly been improvement when it comes to the legal protection and public acceptance of LGBTI people, documented clearly in the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map, yet a lot more needs to be done to achieve equality, non-discrimination and equality in Europe and globally. The issue of bodily integrity for intersex people continues to gain more prominence on the political agenda of governments and institutions. 2019 was a year of positive developments for rainbow families in the region, with an expansion of family rights in a few countries; and important advancements continue to be made on reforming or establishing legal gender recognition procedures, even if progress is slowing down in many countries. However, the development of the first EU LGBTI Strategy takes place at a time when the erosion of the human rights of LGBTI people along with the rise of anti-LGBTI hate rhetoric in countries across Europe is putting European democracy at risk and eroding core principles of the European Union – human rights, equality, freedom and human dignity.

Building on the new mandate in the Commission on equality, and the clear commitments for fundamental rights and equality in the Europe Commission President’s “Agenda for Europe”, the Commission over the next five years has the opportunity to step up and reaffirm its role as a leader on equality and fundamental rights. The EU has competences which enable its institutions to adopt measures which can concretely improve the lived realities of LGBTI people. The EU has yet to fully tap into all instruments at hand – from existing legislation and policy frameworks, and the right of legislative initiative to financial instruments and technical support to member states and relevant stakeholders – that are able to have an impact on the lives of people in Europe and beyond.

  • The European Union matters for people. LGBTI human rights defenders and the broader community are looking to the European Commission to continue to be a clear and strong voice against LGBTI-phobic hate and discrimination.
  • The EU is and can be a force for change beyond its borders by setting standards and leading by example through high-level institutional commitment in the form of a strategy.

In a context of rising hate and attacks on the human rights of LGBTI people, it is more important than ever to reconfirm and strengthen the political and financial commitment of the European Commission to the protection and advancement of equality and human rights for LGBTI people. Now is the time to do more, not less. The current Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting the inequalities in our societies, as the negative impact on people’s health and well-being, physical and economic safety is disproportionally experienced by people who are under-privileged in our societies, especially where socio-economic inequalities enhance the marginalisation experienced because of other aspects of their identity. Coming out of the crisis, it will be more important than ever to have targeted measures to meet the needs of the most marginalised in society, including initiatives tackling LGBTI homelessness, and addressing the overrepresentation of LGBTI people in unemployment and highly precarious employment.

There is wide support for the EU Commission to take such action. The majority of member states want to see progress towards equality for LGBTI people in Europe, as was clearly shown by the call from 19 member states in December 2018 on the European Commission to develop an ambitious EU LGBTI strategy. The European Parliament has reaffirmed several times its call for an EU strategy, including in its February 2019 resolution.

The call for an EU LGBTI strategy from civil society organisations, the European Parliament and 19 EU governments is not about asking for unreasonable amounts of new resources to be allocated to LGBTI-related actions. It is first and foremost about better and more effective use of existing financial and human resources towards clear and coherent objectives.

This document presents concrete proposals of legislative and policy initiatives to be included in the EU LGBTI Strategy.