By Tony Grew • July 1, 2008
The European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has congratulated the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency on a new report that highlights discrimination.
The FRA report concluded that greater legislative protection and wider support within the EU is required for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans citizens.
It also said that the rights and advantages of married couples should be extended to same-sex partnerships, including those benefits for spouses and partners related to free movement and family reunification.
The Intergroup said it hopes the report will encourage member states and EU institutions to bring forward necessary legislative changes.
Michael Cashman, who is one of two openly gay MEPs, represents the West Midlands and is President of the Intergroup.
"This report compiled by an EU agency confirms once again what civil society has been telling us for a long time," he said.
"Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons are experiencing severe discrimination in some parts of the European Union.
"It is the responsibility of the European Commission to propose adequate legislation in the areas of EU competence to guarantee that every European citizen enjoy full and equal rights."
Sophie in 't Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup, welcomed the report's recommendation that homophobic hate speech and crime shall be fought through EU-wide criminal legislation.
"Discrimination of same-sex couples, married or in registered partnership, needs to end," she added.
"All couples should have equal rights and advantages, including in the fields of free movement and family reunification.
"Furthermore, the appalling conditions for transgender people should be put on the political agenda urgently."
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is an independent body of the EU that provides member states and EU institutions with assistance and expertise and supports them when they take measures or formulate courses of action on fundamental rights.
"The fact that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are not treated equally in some aspects of EU legislation, particularly concerning same-sex couples should be a cause of concern for us all," said FRA director Morten Kjaerum.
"More comprehensive legal protection, as well as wider powers and resources for equality bodies are required, and I urge that the new measures on non-discrimination discussed by the EU will ensure this."
The report found that in 18 out of the 27 EU member states the LGBT community enjoy legal protection and rights in the areas of employment, access to public goods and services, housing and social benefits.
"The new measures on non-discrimination discussed by the EU should therefore, commensurate to the EU Fundamental Rights Charter, extend legal protection to all the areas covered by the EU's racial equality legislation and in all member states," the report stated.
A summary of FRA’s report entitled Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I – Legal Analysis is available at http://fra.europa.eu