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Fundamental Rights Agency Finds EU has Uneven Landscape on LGBT Rights

Fundamental Rights Agency Finds EU has Uneven Landscape on LGBT Rights

The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency this week released a report in which it noted that, while some countries continue to work positively on LGBT rights measures, several nations in the European Union are lacking in basic protections for LGBT citizens, which means an uneven legal landscape as LGBTs move through the EU and that, in certain nations, LGBTs continue to face violations of their fundamental rights.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) works to provide advice to EU policy makers on human rights issues. Here is a little background taken from the FRA website on the subject of the FRA’s involvement in LGBT rights:

According to the treaties of the European Union, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and an EU directive adopted in 2000, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people enjoy the right to equality and non-discrimination. However, FRA reports reveal that LGBT persons do experience discrimination, bullying, harassment, verbal and even physical attacks throughout the EU. In addition, unequal treatment also derives from inadequate structural dynamics and legislation, as is the case for employment, free movement, freedom of assembly or refugee claims.

The work on LGBT rights aims to contribute to the eradication of homophobia and transphobia in the EU. Leaning on its data collection, the FRA wants to foster knowledge about the social and legal situation of LGBT people in the EU. This will assist policy and law makers in their efforts to devise a proper framework for non-discrimination, equal treatment and the promotion of equality through diversity policies.

The 2010 FRA Report
The 2010 report notes that clear progress has been made since the last report in 2008, with several nations enacting legislation to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The 2008 report found that eight Member States recognized sexual orientation as a reason why a particular group might face prejudice, be it social stigma or actual violence. The 2010 report notes that the number of Member States which explicitly consider lesbian, gay and bisexual people as a ‘particular social group’ has risen to 22. Yet, at the same time, the report also notes that certain other Member States have taken action to block attempts at a sexual orientation-inclusive non-discrimination directive.

The updated report also documents an improvement in allowing LGBTs freedom of assembly and expression. Examples in the report include the successful pride marches in nations like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria; while seeing displays of opposition, and even violence, at these events, they were still allowed to go ahead under police protection. In contrast to this, the report notes that in Lithuania, the 2010 Baltic pride had to endure threats of cancellation from local officials, while similarly in Latvia, pride organizers had to go to court to fight attempted bans. 

The 2010 report notes that several more nations have enacted same-sex marriage legislation (Portugal for instance), with more countries currently considering it (Luxembourg). This helps same-sex couples move easier from nation to nation knowing that their relationships will be recognized and therein that rights associated with their marriages are more likely to be upheld.
 
Still, even with the aforementioned improvements, the 2010 FRA report points out three key areas in which LGBTs face violations of their basic human rights in the EU:

  • Lack of visibility
  • Potential of violent attacks in certain EU countries
  • Unequal treatment when moving through the EU in the workplace, in the housing sector, how their marriages/partnerships are treated, etc..

Crucially, the 2010 report also specifically notes the prejudice faced by transgender people in the EU, including everyday hardships of marginalization and chronic disadvantages in employment due to transphobia.

The report goes on to outline wider human rights violations trans people face in having their gender identities recognized, and how this process often includes the preconditions of forced sterilization, genital surgery and compulsory divorce from existing partners.

The report also notes instances of bias-motivated attacks due to sexual orientation and gender identity; trans people in particular continue to suffer under a disproportionately high level of violent attacks that can go underreported and under-investigated.

Acting on the 2010 FRA Report

Speaking for ILGA-Europe, Executive Director Evelyne Paradis said:

“We welcome the updated report and that fact that the rights of LGBT people remain among the priorities of the Fundamental Rights Agency. Sadly, since the original FRA report in 2008, LGBT people in some EU Member States still suffer from violations of their basic fundamental rights to safety, peaceful assembly and are restricted in their ability to move freely across the EU. Some Member States are single-handedly blocking the adoption of a new anti-discrimination directive which would level up the protections available to various communities, including LGB people, from discrimination in the areas of EU competence highlighted by the FRA report.”

As such, ILGA-Europe is in consultation with Member States and is asking that leaders of the European Union work together to create strategies to tackle homophobia and transphobia, with an emphasis on enacting a uniform non-discrimination directive to cover such things as health care and education.

ILGA-Europe also says there is the need to ensure that LGBT citizens are protected from hate crimes and that such crimes are thoroughly investigated and recorded.

The group also wants the sexual orientation and gender identity of asylum applicants to be given proper weight in asylum decisions and asylum legislation and policy.

For more information on the FRA report, please click here.

You can also read ILGA-Europe’s consultancy document(.pdf) by clicking here.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.

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26 comments

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7:45PM PST on Feb 1, 2011

Until people stop relying on the bible to tell them how to live, we are going to have unequal rights for humans on this earth.

10:55AM PST on Dec 7, 2010

thanks

10:43AM PST on Dec 7, 2010

http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/ :D

10:44AM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Zuzana,

The Obama administration has *no hold* over the EU. Diplomatic requests can be made, but when John McCain is making political hay over gays and lesbian serving openly in our military, when they've been serving in their militaries for decades, we'd hardly have much standing.
As for the gay hunts in Uganda, not Kenya, that came directly from the Fellowship aka the Family, mostly very conservative Republicans in Congress who nominally describe themselves as Christians, but it's a Christianity few Christians would recognize. Well, Fred Phelps and family would recognize it. President Obama has spoken out against these 'hunts.'
The sharia law thing in Oklahoma is just silly and xenophobic: no laws can go through that supercede state and federal law. Period.
I would wish things were better for all GLBTQ all over the EU, but as Rob and Jay B say it's much better in many places there than it is in the US.

8:46PM PST on Dec 4, 2010

I say people have a right to be who they are.This movement now reminds me of the civil rights movements in the 60s.Most white people at that time did not think that blacks deserved their rights.We know now that that way of thinking is wrong.Why can't we see that with gays too.They are just people they want to hold jobs buy houses fall in love.Raise families what is wrong with that? They are different yes and other people are different too so what let them live laugh and love thats what keeps this world going.HATE crushes and kills and destroyes lives. Lets stop the hating and like John Lennon said give pease a chance.

10:01AM PST on Dec 4, 2010

some people never get over the middle school mindset of "either youre normal, or youre not. if youre not normal then youre bad and its my job to do something about it" -----i am really dissappointed in the countries we live in. you think that they will provide you with equal rights, and then they dont. from age three you are told "if anything bad ever happens to you, if anyone ever really hurts you, call the police, they will help you", but when you think about it, sometimes the police just stand there. soon enough the government isnt going to help anyone. so id say, if you have any ideas that arent "in the norm", keep them to yourself, cuz we're gonna be next. . . .
and @Zuzana why would obama fund such a thing? wouldnt it have to be passed in congress? and if congress passed it, then why havent the people started showing that they have major issues with it??

8:16AM PST on Dec 4, 2010

This is just one more thing to show the EU expanded way too quickly. We know the theory was to bring in all these eastern European countries (some still even want to bring in Turkey, of all places!) to help stabilize them & maintain peace. A good idea, but some of these countries were not even on the same planet of progress in any area as the western EU countries & made it clear from the start they only cared about getting EU money but didn't want to abide by EU values & laws. The EU threatened Poland with expulsion partly over its persecution of LGBT people under the fascist twins rule a few years ago, telling them their membership in the EU was not a right or guaranteed. They should be doing that with Latvia & Lithuania & any others who still share their backward Russian/Soviet values. There is the hope that having them in the EU some civilization will "rub off", but so far that has not happened. At least the EU does have a Court of Human Rights that EU LGBT people can take cases to against their countries. One must wonder why they aren't doing just that? & the EU does have laws against discrimination against LGBT people at least, something which the US can't seem to accomplish, even tho their constitution seemingly guarantees it.

As ExPat USAmericans living in progressive Spain where we as a gay couple have full civil & human rights for the first time in our lives, including marriage, we feel safer going around Europe than ever in the U

7:19AM PST on Dec 4, 2010

Yes, Mary, it is pushed back into the closet. With Obama's blessing, mind you. When the leader(s) of superpower(s) in the world start to bow to islam what do you expect? The gay hunt in Kenya has started and Obama financed it with your and mine and the gay 23 million tax dollars. Gays get beaten up in the streets of Amsterdam and La Grange is blocking the ban on sharia law in Oklahoma.....
Not to worry about the gay population they will get wiped out soon by islam followers; Europe first, America follows.
Take a peek here:
http://collive.com/show_news.rtx?id=8982
I will miss all the art and intelligence that this group of people so abundantly possesses, sad.

6:37AM PST on Dec 4, 2010

After the recent disgraceful events in the UN where the right of gay and trans people not to be executed purely for their sexual orientation was overturned, it's good to see that some parts of the world still believe human beings should be protected against bigotry and oppression.

2:18AM PST on Dec 4, 2010

thanks for this info

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