EU LGBTI Campaign as Part of Action Plan

“We all Share the Same Dreams” is the theme of the European Commission campaign on LGBTI. It focuses on the things that unite us rather than divide us by featuring different people sharing the same dreams. The campaign forms part of a larger LGBTI action plan of the EU.

Experiences such as being bullied or attacked for being who you are, sadly still remain part of everyday life for LGBTI citizens in Europe – including in the workplace. The most current relevant figure from the 2015 Eurobarometer on discrimination shows that 60% of EU citizens see discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as widespread. A figure that has been rising – unnoticed due to more prominent debates – since 2012. At the same time, 71% of respondents support equal rights for LGBTI people. However, nearly half of LGBTI Europeans have experienced some form of harassment at work.

A general LGBTI campaign #ShareYourDream

The European Commission has launched its campaign to increase the social acceptance of LGBTI people and help to combat and prevent discrimination and more specifically to promote positive messages about LGBTI equality and increase the number of ‘straight allies’ and multipliers in the promotion of LGBTI equality among the EU population. The campaigns also aims at increasing visibility of how the European Commission is promoting the rights of LGBTI people. As part of the campaign, promotional materials – like a video and visuals published on the campaign webpage are shared across Europe. A social media toolkit is also available along with a factsheet. The campaign forms part of a larger action plan presented at the end of 2015.

Workplace as a small action item out of 24 pages #EU4LGBTI

Due to the supra-national nature of the work of the European Commission, the list of actions to advance LGBTI equality aims at covering many areas (non-discrimination, education, employment, health, free movement, asylum, hate speech/hate crime, enlargement and foreign policy) and stakeholders. As quite fundamental inequalities still exist for gay men, lesbians, transgender, transident or intersexual people, the majority of the new EU action plan focuses on legal aspects including the enforcement of existing rights, reaching the general public, research and external action.

Supporting businesses and inclusive workplaces

The main focus of the Commission’s work with businesses is – surprisingly – on the EU Platform of Diversity Charters. The Commission also awarded a research and publication project on the business case of LGBTI inclusion which is expected to be published. In terms of key actor support, the Commission is offering financial support to public and private organisations for LGBTI issues in key policy areas.

Reactions: A new quality of political willingness or too selective?

Although the list of actions, including the campaign, show an increased commitment to comprehensive Diversity, most LGBT experts still see a large gap between the European Commission’s work in this field compared to most other areas of D&I. The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights regrets that the plan is not a ‘roadmap’ or ‘strategy’ as the parliament requested. Also ILGA Europe has been disappointed about the action plan saying it remained very general and lacked ambition. Transgender Europe called it a ‘modest agenda’. Even EQUINET, the European network of Equality Bodies observed that ‘limited action has been taken so far at EU level to address the problem’ (of widespread discrimination of LGBT people).

On the other hand, it should be recognized that also the Council of the European Union has adopted Conclusions on LGBTI Equality for the first time in June 2016 and that EU policy has aimed to expand comprehensive non-discrimination to cover civil rights. The proposed directive is still blocked by Germany only.