Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I – Legal Analysis

The report examines the situation of homophobia in the 27 EU Member States. It analyses comparatively key legal provisions, relevant judicial data, such as court decisions, and case law in the Member States. In addition, the report identifies and highlights 'good practice' in the form of positive measures and initiatives to overcome underreporting of LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) discrimination, to promote inclusion and to protect transgender persons. FRA's legal analysis is the first of two reports related to homophobia and discrimination experienced by members of the LGBT community.

Report: Part 1 - Legal analysis

Key findings

The report identifies differences in treatment and protection by the law for LGBT people and a lack of full and equal enjoyment of rights in areas of EU competence particularly with regard to same sex partnerships. This relates to rights and benefits provided for spouses and partners under the EU's Free Movement Directive, the Family Reunification Directive and the Qualification Directive.
The report also highlights that homophobic hate speech and hate crime represent obstacles to the possibility for individuals to exercise their free movement and other rights in a non-discriminatory manner. Homophobia could be combated more effectively using EU wide criminal legislation.

A horizontal directive against all forms of discrimination

The report finds that 18 out of 27 EU Member States have already gone beyond the minimum requirements of EU anti-discrimination legislation and have provided for legal protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, access to public goods and services, housing and social benefits. The report welcomes this approach and encourages extending such provisions to all Member States.

The report concludes that more comprehensive legal protection, as well as wider powers and resources for equality bodies are required, and urges that the new measures on non-discrimination discussed by the EU will ensure this.


The problems and discrimination faced by Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (LGBT) in their every day lives in many EU countries is highlighted repeatedly by NGOs, the Council of Europe and others. Discrimination is a major human rights issue. The Charter of Fundamental Rights clearly prohibits discrimination on various grounds including sexual orientation. Until now Community legislation (Directive 78/2000) prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, as well as harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, but only in employment. There is a growing debate regarding the extension of the much more comprehensive protection of the Race Equality Directive (43/2000) to cover other grounds, such as sexual orientation, disability, age, religion and belief.

In this context, the Agency received a specific request from the European Parliament to prepare a comprehensive study on homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation to be used when discussing the need for a "horizontal directive" on all discrimination grounds. A project covering the EU 27 was put in place to prepare a comprehensive comparative analysis looking at the legal and the sociological aspects of issues affecting LGBT people in the European Union.

The following topics are covered by the Factsheets which are downloadable as attachments (in 23 languages):

  • Same-Sex Couples, Free Movement of EU citizens, Migration and Asylum
  • Hate Speech and Hate Crimes against LGBT Persons
  • How EU Law Offers Protection from Sexual Orientation Discrimination
  • Challenges Facing Transgender Persons
In addition, the 2009 synthesis report on Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States  is also available for downloading. 

Additional information: Part 2 - the Social Situation

FRA's legal analysis is the first of two reports related to homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
The second report "Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States: Part II - The Social Situation is also available.