European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Latvia finally bans sexual orientation discrimination in employment

Yesterday the Latvian Parliament voted to support an amendment to the country’s Labour Law to explicitly ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment. Until yesterday, Latvia was the only member state of the European Union which failed to comply with provisions of the 2000 EU employment equality directive requiring EU member states to protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

ILGA-Europe welcomes this long-awaited decision and thanks the Latvian politicians who supported this amendment and stood against prejudice and discrimination. However, ILGA-Europe remains concerned that it took Latvia such a long and bitter battle to implement this legislation despite the country’s obligation as EU member state to implement EU directives. During the parliamentary debate, some Latvian parliamentarians once again expressed open hatred and prejudice towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. ILGA-Europe is also concerned that the decision to implement the EU directive was taken with a relatively marginal majority (46 parliamentarians in favour, 35 against, 3 abstained and 9 did not vote). In addition, this vote only comes after the President of Latvia returned this amended legislation back to the Parliament for reconsideration after a first rejection by Latvian parliamentarians.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“We welcome this decision of the Latvian Parliament to ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment. Latvia finally cemented in its legislation one of the key EU principles which is that no one in the European Union should be discriminated against in the labour market because of their sexuality. We are glad that enough Latvian parliamentarians had the courage to adopt this legislation as part of Latvia’s commitment to values of equality and non-discrimination and prevent unnecessary, costly and embarrassing infringement procedures. We can finally conclude that six years after its adoption, the Directive’s requirement to ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment will soon be transposed in all EU member states”.

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.

(2) EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation specifically requires EU member states to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (amongst other grounds) in employment. The text of the directive is available on our website: www.ilga-europe.org/europe/issues/employment

(3) In June 2006, the Latvian Parliament voted not to include an explicit ban of sexual orientation discrimination in the country’s Labour Law; this decision was not approved by the President of Latvia who sent the law back to Parliament. For more on Latvia, read on our website: www.ilga-europe.org/europe/guide/country_by_country/latvia