On Thursday, the European Union (EU) released a strategy aimed at improving the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in Europe, the Associated Press reports. The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, plans to expand the list of crimes across Europe to include homophobic hate speech and establish new laws ensuring same-sex parenthood will be recognized across 27 EU member nations. 

The Commission says it will also consider LGBTQ+ issues when creating future policies. It is the EU’s first policy framework that specifically combats discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, the report reads.

“This is not about ideology. This is not about being men or women. This is about love,” Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova told AP.

“This strategy is not against anyone. This does not put anyone on a pedestal. But it is about guaranteeing safety and non-discrimination for everyone.”


LGBTQ+ rights are in jeopardy in parts of Europe — notably, Poland, where President Andrzej Duda ran on an anti-gay platform and has spoken out against what he calls the “LGBT ideology.”

Discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals appears to be on the rise in other EU nations as well, according to the new report.

“In a 2019 survey, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics was actually increasing in the EU: 43 per cent of LGBT people declared that they felt discriminated against in 2019, as compared to 37 per cent in 2012,” the EU says.

“For several [LGBTQ+] people in the EU, it is still unsafe to show affection publicly, to be open about their sexualorientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (be it at home or at work), to simply be themselves without feeling to be threatened. An important number of [LGBTQ+] people are also at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Not all feel safe to report verbal abuses and physical violence to the police.”


And, while not part of the EU, an August study found that employers in Sweden are more likely to reject job applications from transgender job-seekers, especially in male-dominated fields, even though gender identity and gender discrimination are prohibited by law under Swedish legislation.

In an inteview with AP, EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli acknowledged there is much work left to be done.

“We are still a long way away from the full inclusion and acceptance that LGBTQ[+] people deserve,” Dalli said.

“Together with the (EU) member states, I trust we can make Europe a better and safer place for all.”


In September, lawmakers in England and Wales proposed expanding hate law crimes to include misogyny and modifying the definition of racist chanting at sports games to include homophobic slurs, as well as offensive and dangerous behaviour.

The Law Commission, an independent body established by Parliament to review laws and to recommend reforms, is consulting on making the legal amendments.

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