Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights
LGBT people are vulnerable to discrimination, bullying, harassment, verbal and even physical attacks. Stereotypes and prejudice about homosexuality often result in intolerant attitudes and behaviour towards LGBT people. Transgender people are particularly affected by discrimination and exclusion, often suffering abuse and violence.
LGBT rights are fundamental rights
EU law guarantees equal treatment for all people regardless of their sexual orientation in the context of employment and vocational training. The treaties of the EU, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Employment Equality Directive adopted in 2000 guarantee the right to equality and non-discrimination for all LGBT people; in fact they require the EU to be proactive in fighting such discrimination.
The rights of LGBT persons in international law were reaffirmed by the UN Human Rights Council in a Resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, adopted 17 June 2011 (see here for background information). Of particular significance is the Council of Europe's Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. A collection of international legal standards can be found on the Tolerance and non-discrimination information system (TANDIS) of the OSCE's Office for democratic institutions and human rights (ODIHR).
Most recent FRA publications
The FRA collects evidence on the extent to which LGBT persons' rights are protected and enjoyed in practice across the European Union. This is the basis for the FRA's evidence-based advice to decision makers to respect and protect these rights.
In April 2012, the FRA launched an EU-wide online survey - the first of its kind on such a scale. This survey collects comparable data on LGBT persons' experiences of hate crime and discrimination, as well as their level of awareness about their rights, alongside other issues. The survey will also cover Croatia, an EU candidate country.
In addition, in 2012 the FRA will conduct interviews with public authorities and key service providers to identify barriers to the protection and fulfilment of LGBT rights, and also to collect promising practices.
Key research findings from the FRA's previous work
In 2008 and in 2009 the FRA published two important EU-wide reports: a comparative legal analysis of legislation and case law in all 27 Member States (updated in 2010) and a comparative social analysis of the situation of LGBT people in various areas of social and economic life such as access to employment, education and health care. The FRA has published summaries of the main findings of this research in a synthesis report and produced a basic fact sheet.
Three prominent problems facing LGBT people in the EU emerge from these reports:
LGBT people’s rights are gradually being improved, but at different paces across the EU. This difference is partly due to persisting negative attitudes towards LGBT people. One way to address this problem is to promote more dialogue and engagement between public authorities and civil society to foster greater awareness of LGBT rights - something which the FRA does together with its partners.
Focus: legal trends 2008 to 2010
The comparative legal analysis reveals six key trends in the period from 2008 to 2010:
More information on key trends is available here.
The FRA's partners
The FRA is continuously engaging with a range of partners including international organisations, civil society organisations, expert groups and national authorities to promote awareness and respect for the rights of LGBT people, build political commitment for equality and/or non-discrimination mainstreaming in the EU, and deepen understanding about what leads to LGBT exclusion. An overview of the FRA's participation in LGBT-related events is available here. Further information on LGBT rights can be found on the webpages of our partners, who include:
93,000 people take part in FRA’s LGBT survey, making it the largest of its kind worldwide(10 August 2012)
European LGBT survey launched(02 April 2012)
FRA, Council of Europe host roundtable on transgender rights(27 September 2011)
The FRA and the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights jointly organised and hosted a roundtable discussion on the rights of transgender persons on 22-23 September in Vienna.
FRA Director meets with Council of Europe (23 June 2011)
FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum, spoke at the launch of the Council of Europe's report "Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe" in Strasbourg on 23 June. The report builds on the Agency's analysis of the human rights situation of LGBT people in the 27 EU Member States. With this report, the Council of Europe has extended the analysis to 20 additional European countries; for some, for the very first time ever.
The practice of ‘phallometric testing’ for gay asylum seekers (09 December 2010)
The practice of 'phallometric testing' consists in verifying the physical reaction to heterosexual pornographic material of gay men who have filed a claim for asylum on the basis of homosexual orientation. The test is performed by a professional sexologist and, in principle, only with the person's written consent, and once that person has been informed about the technique of the examination. This raises serious questions regarding the compliance of this practice with existing human rights standards.
The FRA presents the updated report on Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity(30 November 2010)
Today the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents its report on Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to Members of the European Parliament. The FRA report reveals that in some EU Member States, legislation and practice is increasing the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, while in others the rights of LGBT persons are being restricted or neglected.
Delegates at the LGBT Business Leader Forum in Budapest, were reminded of the need to continue challenging stereotypes that feed homophobic tendencies in our societies.
FRA statement on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia 2010(17 May 2010)
17 May is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Twenty years ago the World Health Organisation decided to remove homosexuality from its list of illnesses. In these twenty years we have come a long way in the European Union in protecting the rights of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) The EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights is the first international human rights charter to explicitly include the term "sexual orientation". However, as FRA reports have shown, the situation of LGBT people across the EU still needs to be improved.
Location: Naples (Italy)
Location: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Schwarzenbergplatz 11, 1040, Vienna, Austria