The principle of equal treatment is a fundamental value for the EU, which is going to great lengths to combat homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, while Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union allows taking appropriate action to combat this type of discrimination.
Homophobia is a mixture of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
It is an unacceptable violation of human dignity and it is incompatible with the founding values of the EU.
On 17 May 2010, on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Parliament, and the Vice-President of the European Commission for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, jointly issued messages condemning homophobia.
Make Article 21 effective
The Commission's priority is to ensure that EU legislation fully complies with the Charter, including its Article 21.
In its Communication on the Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the EU, adopted on 19 October 2010, the Commission explains how it intends to achieve this priority.
The annual reports on the application of the Charter will also cover progress on the application of its Article 21. In respect of this, the Commission reiterates that according to Article 51(1) of the Charter, the provisions of the Charter are addressed to the EU countries only when they are implementing EU law.
In 2000 the Council adopted a Directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas covered by the Directive. This legislation has raised the level of protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the EU countries.
In addition to monitoring the transposition of this Directive, the Commission is implementing a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy which includes:
- funding of a communication campaign to inform citizens about their rights;
- funding of NGO networks fighting against discrimination faced by LGBT people in the EU;
- conducting studies and exchanging good practices related to these issues.