LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Latvia desperately wants to keep title of the homophobic bastion of the European Union

Today the Latvian Parliament rejected a proposal to include sexual orientation in the Labour Law. Latvia is the only member state of the European Union which still refuses to explicitly ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment as required by the EU Employment Equality Directive.

Since 1996 there were seven legislative proposals to ban sexual orientation discrimination prepared by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists, the Latvian National Human Rights Office and the Latvian Minister for Welfare. All of them were rejected by the Latvian parliamentarians. Latvia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004 and for two years ignored its obligation to fully implement and transpose the requirement of the EU Directive to explicitly ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment.

Riccardo Gottardi, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said:

"Today's decision of the Latvian parliamentarians is appalling. When Latvia has joined the EU it has also taken up crystal-clear commitments on non-discrimination, but the debate in the Latvian Parliament today has shown a provocative and open disregard of these very obligations. Not only Latvia disregards such fundamental principles of the EU as equality and non-discrimination for all, but it also challenges the basis of the European Union itself by completely ignoring the EU authority and its body of law.

We call upon the European Commission to immediately start an infringement procedure against Latvia. Such an open attack on the very basis of the EU by one of the current EU member states must be addressed in the most serious and firm manner. It is time for the EU institutions to go beyond their declarations and statements and use the concrete legal procedures provided by the EU treaties against those member states which ignore and disregard basic principles and the law of the European Union."

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.