LGBT rights in the European Union
|LGBT rights in European Union|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Never criminalised in EU law.
Last state criminalisation repealed in 1994.
|Military service||Allowed to serve openly in every state except Cyprus.|
|Discrimination protections||Outlawed in employment with further protections in member states' law|
|Available in 16/28 states.|
|Adoption||Available in 9/28 states.|
LGBT rights in the European Union are protected under the European Union's (EU) treaties and law. Homosexuality is legal in all EU states and discrimination in employment has been banned since 2000. However EU states have different laws when it comes to any greater protection, same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption.
Acceptance of homosexuality by society is high in European Union countries, with Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic being the top three countries among the studied countries in a global Pew Research Center study.
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union makes in Articles 10 and 19 provisions for combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. These provisions were enacted by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999.
Furthermore, Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights asserts that "any discrimination based on any ground such as ... sexual orientation shall be prohibited." The Charter was agreed in 2000 and became legally binding in 2009.
Following the Treaty of Amsterdam's inclusion the treaty provisions described above, The directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation was enacted in 2000. This framework directive compelled all EU states to adopt, within three years, anti-discrimination legislation in employment. That legislation had to included provisions to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
In practice, this protects EU citizens from being refused a job, or from being fired, because of their sexual orientation. It also protects them from being harassed by a work colleague due to their sexual orientation. It does not cover being refused medical services or treatment, refusal of being given a double room in a hotel, protection from bullying in a school and refusal of social security schemes (e.g. survivors’ pensions and financial assistance to carers). Protection under EU law in these circumstances is however granted on the grounds of race or gender.
Despite this, ILGA-Europe considers the directive, given the number of countries involved, to be "arguably the most important single legislative initiative in the history of lesbian, gay and bisexual rights".
A proposed European anti-discrimination law would outlaw discrimination in the areas of social protection, social advantages, education and access to supply of goods. This would be on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation. However the directive has been stalled in the Council, despite strong support from the European Parliament.
Transgender protection is not covered in the same way in EU law. Despite the European Parliament adopting a resolution on transsexuals’ rights as early as 1989, Transgender identity is not incorporated into any EU funding and was not mentioned in the law establishing the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) as sexual orientation was. However, the case law of the European Court of Justice provides some protection by interpreting discrimination on the basis of 'sex' to also refer to people who have had 'gender reassignment'. Thus all EU sex discrimination law applies to transgender people. In 2002, the 1976 equal treatment directive was revised to include discrimination based on gender identity.
Between 2001 and 2006, a Community Action Programme to Combat Discrimination involved the expenditure of €100 million to fight discrimination in a number of areas, including sexual orientation.
In 2009 the European Commission has acted to tone down a law in Lithuania that included homophobic language and also aimed to support the gay pride parade in the country and others under threat of banning.
Same-sex marriage has been legalised in seven EU states: Belgium (2003), Denmark (2012), France (2013), the Netherlands (2001), Portugal (2010), Spain (2005), and Sweden (2009). Civil unions have been legalised in a further nine states: Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. While some EU states are considering legalisation of either same-sex marriage or some form of partnership, six states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) have constitutionally defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.
While the EU legislates to improve the free movement of persons, there is no provision for mutual recognition of same-sex partnerships. The European Parliament has however approved a report calling for mutual recognition and the Green Party of England and Wales campaigned for EU-wide same-sex marriage in 2009.
According to EU Court of Justice case law based on the Employment Equality Framework Directive, employees in a civil partnership with a same-sex partner must be granted the same benefits as those granted to their colleagues upon their marriage, where marriage is not possible for same-sex couples. The Court established this principle in 2008 in the case of Tadao Maruko v. Versorgungswerk der deutschen Bühnen with regards to a German registered partnership. In December 2013, the Court confirmed this in the case of Frédéric Hay v. Crédit agricole mutuel (C-267/12) with regards to a French PACS, which is significantly inferior to marriage than a German partnership.
State laws on sexual orientation
- For detail, see: LGBT rights in Europe#Legislation by country or territory
Openly gay people are allowed to serve in the military of every country except Cyprus, however this is contrary to European law and is rarely enforced.
|LGBT rights in:||Recognition of same-sex relationships||Same-sex marriage||Same-sex adoption||Anti-discrimination laws||Hate crime/speech law|
|Austria||Yes (since 2010)||No||/ Biological step-child adoption only||Some||Yes|
|Belgium||Yes (since 2000)||Yes (since 2003)||Yes (since 2006)||All||Yes|
|Bulgaria||No||No, constitutional ban||Single gay persons may adopt||All||No|
|Croatia||Yes (expansion proposed)||No, constitutional ban||Only single gay person may adopt (institution similar to biological step-child adoption proposed)||All||Yes|
|Czech Republic||Yes (since 2006)||No||Single gay persons may adopt||All||No|
|Denmark||Yes (since 1986)||Yes (since 2012)||Yes (since 2010)||Some||Yes|
|Estonia||No (proposed)||No||Only married couples can adopt||Some||Yes|
|Finland||Yes (since 2002)||No (under consideration)||/ Step-child adoption only (full joint adoption under consideration)||Some||Yes|
|France||Yes (since 1999)||Yes (since 2013)||Yes (since 2013)||Some||Yes|
|Germany||Yes (since 2001)||No (proposed)||/ Biological or successive step-child adoption only (full joint adoption proposed)||All||No|
|Hungary||Yes (since 2009)||No, constitutional ban||No||All||Yes|
|Ireland||Yes (since 2011)||No (proposed)||Single gay persons may adopt. Step Child adoption under consideration.||All||Yes|
|Italy||No (proposed)||No||Only married couples can adopt||Some||No|
|Latvia||No||No, constitutional ban||Only married couples can adopt||Some||No|
|Lithuania||No||No, constitutional ban||Only married couples can adopt||All||Yes|
|Luxembourg||Yes (since 2004)||No (under consideration)||Single gay persons may adopt (joint adoption under consideration)||Some||No|
|Malta||No (under consideration)||No||No (under consideration)||Some||Yes|
|Netherlands||Yes (since 1998)||Yes (since 2001)||Yes||All||Yes|
|Poland||No (rejected)||No, constitutional ban||Single gay persons may adopt||Some||No|
|Portugal||Yes (since 2001)||Yes (since 2010)||Single gay persons may adopt||All, according to Constitution||Yes|
|Slovenia||Yes (since 2006)||No||No, (proposed)||All||Yes|
|Spain||Yes||Yes (since 2005)||Yes||All||Yes|
|Sweden||Yes (since 1995)||Yes (since 2009)||Yes (since 2003)||All||Yes|
|United Kingdom||Yes (since 2005)||/ (Since 2013 in England and Wales. Under consideration in Scotland, not in Northern Ireland)||Yes (since 2002 in England and Wales, 2009 in Scotland and 2013 in Northern Ireland)||All||Yes|
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is not recognised by the European Union and is considered by it and all UN members except Turkey to be part of the Republic of Cyprus (and hence, the EU). However, due to the Cyprus dispute placing the territory outside the Republic of Cyprus' control, EU law is suspended in the area governed by the TRNC until the situation is resolved.
- LGBT rights in Europe
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe
- Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- European Union Fundamental Rights Agency
- "Global Acceptance of Homosexuality". PewResearch. June 4, 2013.
- Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, European Union 2009
- Perspective: what has the EU done for LGBT rights?, Café Babel 17/05/10
- CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, European Union 2000
- What is the current legal situation in the EU?, ILGA Europe
- European Union and LGBT rights, ILGA Europe
- Why ILGA-Europe supports the proposed Anti-Discrimination Directive, ILGA Europe
- European Parliament renews call for anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people, LGBTQ Nation
- "MEPs welcome new toolkit to defend LGBT people’s human rights". The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights. 30 June 2010.
- "Toolkit to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People". Council of the European Union. 17 June 2010.
- "EU foreign affairs ministers adopt ground-breaking global LGBTI policy". The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights. 24 June 2013.
- "Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons". Council of the European Union. 24 June 2013.
- Report on civil law, commercial law, family law and private international law aspects of the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme, European Parliament
- EU-Wide Recognition of Member States’ Gay Marriage, Civil Partnership a Step Closer, WGLB
- Green Party calls for EU-wide gay marriage, Pink News
- "Same-sex civil partners cannot be denied employment benefits reserved to marriage". ILGA-Europe. 13 December 2013.
- "PRESS RELEASE No 159/13". Court of Justice of the European Union. 12 December 2013.
- Rainbow Europe Country Index
- Law change criminalises homophobia
- Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (c. 4)
- The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights
- LGBT, European Union Fundamental Rights Agency
- European Union and LGBT rights, ILGA-Europe