The National LGBT* Organization LGL welcomes the decision of the European Commission to clarify that existent EU sex discrimination law should be interpreted as to protect all trans people against discrimination. So far, trans people are not directly mentioned in EU equality law, but the Court of Justice ruled in 1996 that the EU gender equality principle applies also to discrimination relating to gender reassignment. The European Commission now says in a new report that gender identity discrimination should be treated on equal footing.
In 2014 the EU Fundamental Rights Agency warned that discrimination protection limited to gender reassignment might leave out about 50% of the trans population. In light of high discrimination rates, the EU Agency recommends to extend existing protections to cover discrimination related to the gender identity of a person.
The European Commission has now commented that despite the lack of case law gender identity discrimination should be treated on equal footing as gender reassignment discrimination in its report on the implementation of the Gender Goods & Services Directive, published on May 5.
“While this interpretation is not legally binding for member states, Transgender Europe welcomes this clear statement by the European Commission that it will interpret EU sex discrimination law to include gender identity. This has been long over due.“ comments Richard Köhler, TGEU Senior Policy Officer:
“This ends speculations on who is protected by EU law. Before, this was only definite for those who have been taking or planning to take medical or legal steps, leaving a big part of the trans community out.”
“However, TGEU regrets that the European Commission accepts the legal situation in member states as sufficient. TGEU recommends introducing gender identity as a protected ground in EU and national gender equality law similar to pregnancy or maternity. This would set aside any doubts and support a consistent application of the equality principle for all trans people.” comments Arja Voipio, TGEU co-chair.
As far as Lithuania is concerned, on the 25th of May, 2015 the national LGBT* rights organization LGL received a notice from the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania stating that potential complaints about discrimination on the basis of gender identity received by the Office would be investigated under the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of the Republic of Lithuania and/or the Law on Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Lithuania. According, any obstacle for a transgender person to fulfill the achievement of rights, freedom and equality of opportunity or any less favorable treatment to such a person on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression might and should be regarded as discrimination based on gender.
Download the European Commission Report on the Application of the Gender Goods and Services Directive
For further information, please read here.