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Legal aspects

Equality in the workplace

The Council of the European Union adopted in 2000 a directive banning - among others - discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment and occupation.

You are protected in the workplace

Whether you are looking for a job, or have a part-time or full-time job, you are protected whatever your sexual orientation is. This means that:

  • You are protected by the law if, for example, you think you are being treated unfairly when applying for a job because of your sexual orientation
  • You are protected by the law if, for example, you have a job where your colleagues treat you badly – such as by calling you names or making jokes at your expense  because of your sexual orientation
  • You are protected by the law if, for example, your boss refuses you promotion or training because of your sexual orientation

In July 2008 the European Commission proposed a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of sexual orientation (amongst other discrimination grounds) which would ban discrimination in the areas of social protection, education and access to goods and services. The proposal is currently under discussion by EU Member States in the Council of the European Union.

Family matters

The increased mobility of people in Europe affects the number of families made up of citizens of different EU countries, or of EU citizens and third-country nationals. There are currently around 16 million international couples in the EU including a certain number of same-sex couples.

More information as regards family law can be found here.

  • Property effects of marriage and registered partnership

The Commission proposed two separate Regulations:

  • Civil status documents

Free movement within the EU is one of the most valued rights for EU citizens. Today, if EU citizens want to exercise the right to reside or do business in another Member State, they face a series of difficulties when presenting the necessary public documents to the authorities. In addition, cross-border recognition of civil documents is an important step to an effective free movement right.

To make the free circulation of civil documents a reality, several actions have been taken by the Commission.

Free movement and residence

The right to free movement and residence of Union citizens and their family members constitutes one of the cornerstones of the EU. It is a personal and fundamental right conferred on every Union citizen by Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and specified in a Commission directive from 2004.

Victim's rights directive

The Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime was adopted on 25 October 2012. The Directive will provide assistance and protection to people who suffered crime because of - among others - their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and will provide victims with procedural rights to allow them to participate in criminal proceedings. The Directive emphasises the need to assess victims' individual specific needs for protection considering their personal characteristics, type and nature or the circumstances of the crime. In the context of the individual assessment, the Directive requires that particular attention is paid to victims who have suffered a crime committed with a bias or discriminatory motive which could, in particular, be related to their personal characteristics.