[Brussels, 31 October 2014] On 28 October 2014 in Brussels, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union held the first EU high-level conference on tackling sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. The event gathered 250 decision makers, practitioners and representatives of civil society organisations and delivered a strong message in favour of comprehensive targeted policy responses to address discrimination against LGBTI persons.
In 2012, the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) published the first EU-wide survey on the situation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons. The results show that 47% of all respondents say that they have felt personally discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of sexual orientation in the year preceding the survey. More worringly, 90% of them did not report to the authorities.
The study also reveals that 53% of bisexual women, 22% of lesbian women and 30% of transgender persons experienced incidents of hate-motivated attack of a sexual nature because they were perceived to be LGBT. The majority of incidents of hate-motivated violence took place in public place.
In the same manner, ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map 2014 shows that discrimination against LGBTI is still alarming in all European countries.
The Italian Ambassador Stefano Sannino and Morten Kjaerum, Director of the FRA, underlined the need to strengthen the legal framework to improve the protection of LGBTI persons in the European Union. Today, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Anti-discrimination and equality are also mentioned in the Treaty of the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. However, the European Commission proposal for an Anti-Discrimination Directive is stuck at Council level for 6 years now, which leaves an important protection gap in the EU Member States.
All speakers therefore agreed on the crucial need to develop comprehensive policy responses. According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, "changing hearts and minds" by raising awareness and promoting role models go hands with hands with more targeted measures to address discrimination.
The conclusions of the conference bring a strong message to the new EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, who also underlined the need for a comprehensive EU action plan to prevent discrimination against LGBTI persons during her hearing in the European Parliament on 1st October 2014.
A recording of the conference is available here.
The Winter 2011-2012 issue of ILGA-Europe magazine Destination>>Equality focuses on the links between gender and LGBTI issues and the intersections between feminist and LGBTI movements. Download it in PDF here.