by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
The European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force Dec. 1, incorporates the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the only international governmental document that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Article 21 states, “Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.”
According to the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (aka ILGA-Europe), the charter “is the first EU consolidated document containing the values and fundamental economic, social, civil and political rights to which EU citizens should be entitled.”
“The European Union made it crystal clear and provided the EU institutions and EU member states with guidelines that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is incompatible with the application of the union’s law,” said ILGA-Europe Board Co-chair Martin K.I. Christensen.
Three countries opted out of the charter, Christensen said – the United Kingdom, Poland and the Czech Republic.
“We are particularly concerned with Poland’s reasons for not signing the charter as the Polish leaders believe the charter might compromise their sovereignty in the ‘sphere of public morality, family law,'” he said.
The Treaty of Lisbon gives more power to the European Parliament, increases EU member states’ and institutions’ obligations to tackle discrimination and to mainstream equality, and makes the EU a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The European Union was always one of the world’s leaders on human rights, but now we have a treaty ratified by all 27 EU member states which clearly identifies the duties of the EU institutions to take human rights and equality issues to the very center of their work when adopting various policies and taking actions,” said ILGA-Europe Board Co-chair Linda Freimane.