Overview

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.

1 LGBT rights are fundamental rights
2 Collecting evidence
3 Key research findings from the FRA's previous work
4 Focus: legal trends 2008 to 2010
5 The FRA's partners

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

Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU Member States

Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU Member States - Summary of findings, trends, challenges and promising practices
(July 2011)

Collecting evidence

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.

Access the survey here - make your experience count

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.

Cover of the Factsheet on persons with disabilities

Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2010. Chapter 5: Equality and non-discrimination
(June 2011)

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:

  • Discrimination across areas of social and economic life;
  • Vulnerability to verbal and physical attacks;
  • Invisibility out of fear of negative consequences.

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.

Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2010

Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, 2010 Update, Comparative legal analysis
(November 2010)

Focus: legal trends 2008 to 2010

The comparative legal analysis reveals six key trends in the period from 2008 to 2010:

  • Law relating to free movement and family reunification - significant positive developments: the definition of 'family member' in legislation transposing EU law on free movement or on family reunification has been or is expected to be expanded in seven EU countries - Austria, France, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain. Nevertheless, a negative trend has emerged in Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania, where same-sex marriages and partnerships contracted abroad are explicitly considered invalid, which makes it more difficult for same-sex spouses and partners to reunite.
  • Law relating to Asylum - substantial number of positive initiatives: Finland, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Spain now explicitly afford protection to LGB victims of persecution, bringing the total number of EU Member States offering protection to 23. However, in at least one Member State, the practice of phallometric testing used to assess the credibility of applicants raised serious concerns.
  • Freedom of assembly - mixed developments: while progress has been noted in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, the right to organise pride events remains difficult to put into practice in Latvia and Lithuania.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination - moderate expansion of legal protection: There has been an extension of non-discrimination legislation covering sexual orientation beyond employment in the Czech Republic and the UK. In relation to the recognition of gender identity as autonomous grounds or as ‘sex’ discrimination, positive changes took place in the Czech Republic, Sweden and the UK. Equality bodies in Denmark and Estonia extended their mandate to cover sexual orientation discrimination.
  • Hate speech and hate crime - minimal improvement in protection: Positive initiatives have emerged in Greece, Lithuania, Slovenia and the UK.
  • Freedom of expression - setback: Lithuania appears isolated in its prohibition of dissemination of material that could be seen as 'promoting' homosexuality.

More information on key trends is available here.

Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States: Part II - The Social Situation

Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States: Part II - The Social Situation
(June 2009)

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:

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

Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I – Legal Analysis
(June 2008)


News
© TGEU 2012

FRA speaks to transgender equality organisations(07 September 2012)

FRA took part in the fourth Transgender Europe (TGEU) Council Meeting in Dublin on 7-9 September 2012.

93,000 people take part in FRA’s LGBT survey, making it the largest of its kind worldwide(10 August 2012)

Some 93,000 respondents participated in a FRA survey of the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on a daily basis, making it the biggest such study worldwide. The final survey results will be presented on the next International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, which takes place on 17 May 2013.

Robust data needed to effectively tackle homophobia and transphobia(16 May 2012)

As lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people continue to face serious challenges in fully enjoying their fundamental rights, the FRA calls for robust data to better understand and address the extent of discrimination and hate crime across the European Union.

European LGBT survey launched(02 April 2012)

Besides occasional news reports about the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, there is very little comparable data collected across the EU about the everyday experiences of LGBT people with respect of discrimination. In response to this situation, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has launched the first ever online EU-wide survey to establish an accurate picture of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (18 years or older) that will try to capture their experiences.

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

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.

Cover of the new report on Homophobia

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.

Cover of the new LGBT report

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.

Getting the best out of your workforce; diversity in the workplace(21 May 2010)

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.

17 May is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

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.


 

Events

FRA hosted an expert workshop on a rights based approach to HIV/AIDS in EU-27 on 14 June.

Date: 14 June 2010
Location: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Schwarzenbergplatz 11, 1040, Vienna, Austria
Projects