LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Anti-discrimination law

Why is anti-discrimination legislation important?

Everyone should be able to live their lives without any fear of being discriminated against. The reality is that LGBTI people all over Europe are facing discrimination every day. It might happen in their workplace, at the doctor, in school or at a restaurant. They could be denied services due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or sex characteristics.

Think this situation is unacceptable? We do too. Changing this will not happen overnight, but creating a legal framework has proven to be an important statement, indicating that a country values all of its citizens and wants to protect them against of any form of discrimination.

What is the current situation in Europe?

The situation is very fragmented: many countries have introduced some sort of anti-discrimination legislation; others have no legal framework which prohibits discrimination of LGBTI people. Very few countries have adopted horizontal anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTI people in all spheres of life. Check our Rainbow Europe module to see the latest updates on the legal situation for LGBTI people in Europe.

The European Union has introduced an anti-discrimination directive which includes sexual orientation. However this directive only prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in the area of employment. In 2008, the European Commission proposed a directive that would ban discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation in all areas of EU competence. The proposed directive is yet to be adopted.

How does ILGA-Europe work towards inclusive anti-discrimination legislation?

  • First, ILGA-Europe, along with our equality NGO campaign partners, call on the EU to unblock the anti-discrimination directive without delay. Read more about our Equality for All campaign for the adoption of an EU Anti-Discrimination Directive here.
  • ILGA-Europe make sure to document incidents of discrimination experienced by LGBTI people in Europe. This supports our own work and our member organisations’ calls on the EU and national governments to legislate on anti-discrimination.
  • We carry out public campaigns and awareness-raising actions to raise the visibility of the discrimination faced by LGBTI people. We conduct trainings for LGBTI organisations to build their capacity to engage in European and national policy-making on anti-discrimination issues.
  • Lastly we exchange good practices and conduct mutual learning seminars for policy-makers and LGBTI organisations.

For more information on our work on anti-discrimination law, contact Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director.