The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

The European Parliament Research Service recently published an updated version of the May 2019 Briefing on ‘The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union’.

The prohibition of discrimination and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people persists throughout the EU and takes various forms, including verbal abuse and physical violence.

Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education or access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas.

Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction.

These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship, or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State.

Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and is the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament.

However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally the preserve of Member States, such as marital status and family law.

Civil society organisations and EU bodies are alerting policy-makers to the importance of ensuring that existing inequalities do not worsen as a result of the immediate health emergency and likely socio-economic consequences, calling for equality measures to be at the core of sustainable, fair, recovery plans.

ILGA-Europe and TGEU have identified a number of specific problems facing the LGBTI community, including increased stigmisation and scapegoating, risks of domestic violence for those forced to quarantine with hostile or abusive family members, potential difficulties in accessing healthcare, and increased risks of unemployment and poverty. The FRA LGBTI survey shows that one in three respondents overall and one in two trans and intersex respondents already found it difficult to make ends meet before the pandemic and that access to healthcare and housing was also an issue. ILGA Europe and the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup have called on the Commission to maintain a focus on equality in recovery measures following the Covid-19 pandemic, taking account of the situation and needs of LGBTI people and other minorities.

The full Briefing is available :

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