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The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

16-05-2019

The prohibition of discrimination, and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare ...

The prohibition of discrimination, and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas. Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction. These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship, or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State. Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law. This is a further updated version of a Briefing originally drafted by Piotr Bakowski. The previous edition was published in June 2018.

The death penalty and the EU's fight against it

12-02-2019

The European Union is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and fighting it is a foremost priority of its external human rights policy. While most countries in the world have abolished capital punishment, death sentences continue to be handed down and carried out in a number of countries. The Union uses its diplomatic and political weight to encourage these countries to join the abolitionist ranks, or at the very least to respect international minimum standards. It funds campaigns ...

The European Union is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and fighting it is a foremost priority of its external human rights policy. While most countries in the world have abolished capital punishment, death sentences continue to be handed down and carried out in a number of countries. The Union uses its diplomatic and political weight to encourage these countries to join the abolitionist ranks, or at the very least to respect international minimum standards. It funds campaigns to increase awareness of the need to end capital punishment, and restricts trade in substances that could be used for executions.

Combating anti-Muslim hatred in the EU

28-11-2018

Discrimination against minorities is against EU values and principles. However, research shows that discrimination against Muslims is becoming more common, and that it is increasingly supported by some political parties. EU secondary legislation on the issue is limited, and even grounds and areas of discrimination that are already covered need more work to ensure comprehensive protection. Nonetheless, several key legislative proposals are not making any progress, much to the regret of the European ...

Discrimination against minorities is against EU values and principles. However, research shows that discrimination against Muslims is becoming more common, and that it is increasingly supported by some political parties. EU secondary legislation on the issue is limited, and even grounds and areas of discrimination that are already covered need more work to ensure comprehensive protection. Nonetheless, several key legislative proposals are not making any progress, much to the regret of the European Parliament.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relevance for the European Union

05-11-2018

Seventy years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has achieved all of the significance its drafters hoped it would. It has served as a foundation for the codification of human rights at global, regional and national level. Even though non-binding, many of its provisions enjoy such undisputed recognition as to be considered part of customary international law and therefore universally obligatory. In the absence of universal ratification of the human rights treaties, the Declaration ...

Seventy years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has achieved all of the significance its drafters hoped it would. It has served as a foundation for the codification of human rights at global, regional and national level. Even though non-binding, many of its provisions enjoy such undisputed recognition as to be considered part of customary international law and therefore universally obligatory. In the absence of universal ratification of the human rights treaties, the Declaration often remains the central reference to be invoked for the denunciation of human rights violations. The EU has fully embraced the Declaration's significance, using it to set standards in its internal legislation and international agreements, and to guide its external policy.

Council of Europe

05-09-2018

The Council of Europe (CoE) is the oldest of the intergovernmental organisations set up in post-World War II Europe, and the one that has the most member states. Since its creation in 1949, the CoE has shared strong links with other European organisations, such as the European Coal and Steel Community and the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation; it now has close links with the European Union. Over time, the CoE has specialised in human-rights promotion and in monitoring the effective implementation ...

The Council of Europe (CoE) is the oldest of the intergovernmental organisations set up in post-World War II Europe, and the one that has the most member states. Since its creation in 1949, the CoE has shared strong links with other European organisations, such as the European Coal and Steel Community and the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation; it now has close links with the European Union. Over time, the CoE has specialised in human-rights promotion and in monitoring the effective implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights. However, the CoE has recently come under pressure due to allegations of internal corruption and a rise of illiberal tendencies in Europe; in response, it has embarked on a reform process.

The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

12-06-2018

The prohibition of discrimination and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of these provisions is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and ...

The prohibition of discrimination and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of these provisions is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas. Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction. These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State. Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law. This is a further updated version of a Briefing originally drafted by Piotr Bakowski. The previous edition was published in May 2017.

Equality and the Fight against Racism and Xenophobia

28-03-2018

This study specifically focuses on EU action and cooperation concerning equality and the fight against racism and xenophobia. Despite existing EU legislation and action it argues that there are still significant gaps and barriers to equal treatment and to adequate prevention and prosecution of, and compensation for, hate crimes within the European Union. The impact of the gaps and barriers identified – in action and cooperation – at EU level are assessed both in terms of economic impact and their ...

This study specifically focuses on EU action and cooperation concerning equality and the fight against racism and xenophobia. Despite existing EU legislation and action it argues that there are still significant gaps and barriers to equal treatment and to adequate prevention and prosecution of, and compensation for, hate crimes within the European Union. The impact of the gaps and barriers identified – in action and cooperation – at EU level are assessed both in terms of economic impact and their impacts on economic rights and freedoms. To address these gaps and barriers, the study provides some options for EU action in the field.

EU Fundamental Rights Agency

26-03-2018

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is an independent body which contributes to ensuring full respect of fundamental rights in the EU in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Agency addresses various topics, including discrimination of minorities, hate crime, data protection, access to justice, gender-based violence and fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants. This is an updated edition ...

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is an independent body which contributes to ensuring full respect of fundamental rights in the EU in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Agency addresses various topics, including discrimination of minorities, hate crime, data protection, access to justice, gender-based violence and fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants. This is an updated edition of an 'at a glance' note from May 2016.

Procedural rights and detention conditions

07-12-2017

Despite the significant EU action and cooperation that has taken place, the rights and detention conditions of those suspected of committing a crime and serving a sentence in the Member States continue to fail to live up to international and EU standards. Judicial cooperation within the EU is not yet fully adapted to this reality, it operates in absence of an EU mechanism monitoring Member States' compliance with practical fundamental rights and lacks specific guidance for alleged violations. EU ...

Despite the significant EU action and cooperation that has taken place, the rights and detention conditions of those suspected of committing a crime and serving a sentence in the Member States continue to fail to live up to international and EU standards. Judicial cooperation within the EU is not yet fully adapted to this reality, it operates in absence of an EU mechanism monitoring Member States' compliance with practical fundamental rights and lacks specific guidance for alleged violations. EU legislation on suspects' rights is limited to setting common minimum standards. Even so, there are already indications of shortcomings concerning key rights to a fair trial, such as the right to interpretation, translation, information and legal assistance during questioning by the police. Furthermore, certain areas have not been comprehensively addressed, such as pre-trial detention, contributing to prison overcrowding in a number of EU Member States. The outstanding divergent levels of protection also create discrimination between EU citizens. Criminal justice systems remain inefficient and fail to achieve the aims of convicting and rehabilitating the guilty, while protecting the innocent. This impacts on the individuals concerned, in terms of a denial of their rights and material and immaterial damage; on their families; and on Member States' societies more generally. The gaps and barriers identified also have substantial cost implications. Finally, this study assesses the added value of a number of options for EU action and cooperation to contribute to closing these gaps and taking further steps to ensure the effective protection of the rights of suspects and detained persons.

Reform of the e-Privacy Directive

30-08-2017

In January 2017, the Commission tabled a proposal for a regulation on privacy and electronic communications which would replace the current 2002 e-Privacy Directive. The main objectives of the review are: enhancing security and communications confidentiality; defining clearer rules on tracking technologies such as cookies; and achieving greater harmonisation among Member States. Stakeholders are divided on certain issues, including on the basic need for a new measure to protect confidentiality in ...

In January 2017, the Commission tabled a proposal for a regulation on privacy and electronic communications which would replace the current 2002 e-Privacy Directive. The main objectives of the review are: enhancing security and communications confidentiality; defining clearer rules on tracking technologies such as cookies; and achieving greater harmonisation among Member States. Stakeholders are divided on certain issues, including on the basic need for a new measure to protect confidentiality in e-communications. Some national parliaments have made comments on the proposal, and discussions are progressing in Council. In the European Parliament, rapporteur Marju Lauristin (S&D, Estonia) presented a draft report to the Civil Liberties Committee on 21 June 2017, and this is expected to be voted in October 2017.

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