Vulnerable groups' rights at the workplace – in particular issues of discrimination based on sexual orientation

EESC opinion: Vulnerable groups' rights at the workplace – in particular issues of discrimination based on sexual orientation

Key points 

  • Any discrimination against individuals based on their identification with a particular group is a threat both to human-rights-based democracy and to economic development in the EU. In the EESC's view, the EU has a responsibility to take a coordinated approach towards the objectives of work in this area.
  • The EESC notes that there are considerable differences within the EU with regard to the treatment of LGBT people, and has serious concerns about the discrimination they face. This discrimination presents a threat to EU's fundamental values and to freedom of movement.
  • The EESC stresses that awareness of what the EU's legislation and rules have to say about discrimination in the workplace is important not only for individuals but also for employers and trade unions. Almost 45% of EU citizens are unaware that there are laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and the EESC feels that targeted information campaigns are needed to tackle this problem.
  • In this opinion, the EESC notes that, with regard to discrimination based on sexual orientation, more needs to be done to reduce the risk of encountering discrimination. This includes increasing funding for research on discrimination in employment.
  • The EESC stresses that it is important for civil society and governments to work together to combat stereotypes and raise awareness of LGBT people's rights. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation must be actively included in negotiations between the social partners.
  • It is clear that the economic and social crisis has serious consequences for vulnerable groups in the labour market. The EU and the Member States need to be more effective and more open in evaluating the risks to vulnerable groups presented by the current cutbacks and to take action to reduce those risks.
  • The EESC urges the Commission to develop a road map for combating discrimination against LGBT people, and highlights the importance of incorporating an LGBT perspective in all policy areas.