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May 19, 2008 News: European Parliament Will Discuss a New EU Anti-Discrimination Directive
By Sven Rabatzki

(EU) - Tomorrow the members of the European Parliament will debate and vote on a resolution “Progress made in equal opportunities and non-discrimination in the EU”. The resolution is based on a report produced by Elisabeth Lynne, MEP, and adopted by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on 17 April 2008. The draft resolution clearly urges the European Commission to stay committed to the Commission’s work plan for 2008 and to come out with a proposal for one ‘horizontal’ anti-discrimination directive covering all grounds of discrimination, including sexual orientation.

The draft resolution states, that the European Parliament

“34. Reiterates the political, social and legal desirability of putting an end to the hierarchy of protection against the different grounds of discrimination; strongly believes that it does not make sense to outlaw discrimination in one area whilst allowing it in another and therefore welcomes the Commission’s intention to draft a comprehensive directive to combat discrimination under Article 13 of the EC Treaty as provided in its 2008 work programme.”

As became known and recently confirmed by the European Commission, the Commission’s proposal for the new EU anti-discrimination directive might not include such grounds as age, religion/belief and sexual orientation and might cover only disability. The excluded grounds of discrimination such as age, religion/believe and sexual orientation would be addressed by proposing legally non-binding recommendations.

On 9 April 2008, ILGA-Europe intensified its campaign to ensure the European Commission proposes a directive covering all grounds of discrimination and ends the hierarchy of protection and rights existing in the EU.

Deborah Lambillotte, Co-Chairs of the Executive Board of ILGA-Europe, said:

“We all heartedly welcome the European Parliament’s report and hope the MEPs will support the resolution calling on the Commission to end hierarchy of protection in the EU. Just two weeks ago José Manuel Durăo Barroso, the President of the European Commission, acknowledged that there is “a lively debate on the need for further anti-discrimination legislation at European level” and assured that “this debate is not about whether to combat discrimination; it is about how to do so most effectively”.

ILGA-Europe strongly believes that one directive covering all grounds of discrimination is the best way to address enduring inequalities in legal protections. A multi-ground directive will not only end the hierarchy of protections and rights, but it is also the adequate and appropriate way of addressing the issues of multiple discrimination.

For years, ILGA-Europe and its member have been gathering proofs and evidence that discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation in areas outside employment exists and is widely spread in Europe . These proofs and evidence were provided to the Commission in its assessment of the need for new legislation. Recently, the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU, which is researching homophobia and collecting data on discrimination based on sexual orientation, stated that “effective legislation is hereby seen as a key instrument in tackling and overcoming such challenges [homophobia and discrimination] across the EU.”

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