European Union (EU) Anti-Discrimination Legislation

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2008 National LGBT Conference
23 July 2008

Conference notes that European Union law provides protection against sexual orientation discrimination – as well as age, disability, religion and belief – in the area of employment, but that there is currently no such protection in EU law against discrimination on these grounds in areas such as social protection, goods and services, health care and education.

Discrimination on the grounds of race and gender are covered by stronger protection in EU law:

1The Race Equality Directive protects against discrimination based on race and ethnic origin in all areas;

2Sex discrimination is prohibited in employment and in access to goods and services, but not in areas such as education.

Conference notes that due to legislative gains in many EU member states (including the UK) there are laws at the level of individual states giving protection on the grounds of sexual orientation (discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment is included under the Gender Directive), but such protections are not made available across the EU on a consistent basis.

Conference therefore welcomes the European Commission’s proposal, announced in July, for a single ‘cross cutting’ Directive on discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief in areas other than employment.

It welcomes the fact that the scope of the proposed directive is identical to the scope of the EU directive protecting against discrimination on the grounds of race, but is concerned that it leaves out protection against differential treatment on the basis of marital/family status and in the area of reproductive rights. It is also concerned that gender will become the ground that is the least protected from discrimination in EU legislation.

Conference recognises that there is much work to be done as the directive needs to be adopted by unanimity by the 27 Member States in order to become EU law.

Therefore conference instructs the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee to continue to work with the National Executive Council, Labour Link, Trades Union Congress LGBT Committee, LGBT Labour, International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe and other relevant bodies to campaign for:

A. The adoption of the Directive and to seek to address the flaws within the current text;

B. The Commission to bring forward proposals to address the remaining inequality of rights and protections to ensure an equal level of protection on all grounds for all people across the EU.

Conference further calls on regional LGBT groups and branches to support campaigning initiatives, including encouraging members to contact their MEPs.