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FRA report on "Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation" published

The report "Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I – Legal Analysis (30/06/2008)" 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 the underreporting of LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) discrimination, to promote inclusion and to protect transgender persons.

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.

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. 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.

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.

For more information on the study and all country reports see the FRA's website. The study and the country report of Austria, which was written by BIM members, can also be downloaded here.