The Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive cannot wait another decade

Brussels, 8 May 2020

On August 2019, the Hungarian Pest county government office imposed a fine on Coca-Cola for launching an LGBTI-friendly billboard campaign. The campaign depicted heterosexual and homosexual couples with a clear message of acceptance. 

On 7 November 2019, 30 MEPs from five political groups[1] co-signed a written question to the European Commission[2] asking whether it considered such a decision to fundamentally violate the basic EU principle of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.

On 30 April 2020, the European Commission replied that “EC law covers discrimination based on sexual orientation only in the context of employment”. It added that the Audiovisual Media Services Directive[3] obliges Member States to ensure that audiovisual commercial communications do not include or promote any discrimination based on sexual orientation, but that such does not apply to billboard campaigns.[4]

Terry Reintke MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament, comments:

The Commission’s response is in fact quite timely and emphasises why we need European legislation covering anti-discrimination in grounds other than employment. The LGBTI Intergroup has continuously called for such legislation to be enacted and we will offer all our support to Commissioner Dalli to propose legislation that goes in this direction. Discrimination does not only happen in the workplace. Legislation must therefore provide EU-wide protection to LGBTI persons in all applicable contexts without exception.

Marc Angel MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament, comments:

The legislative gaps in EU anti-discrimination legislation make it so that there is an artificial ‘hierarchy’ of grounds. The proposed Horizontal Directive which has been stalled in the Council must not be on halt for another decade. As a cross-party group of MEPs, we will work together to ensure this mandate will deliver on equality obligations towards EU citizens. The principle of equal treatment must be upheld outside the labour market as well.


[1] The MEPs are the following – GUE/NGL: Manuel Bompard; Greens-EFA: Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Grace O’Sullivan, Terry Reintke, Tilly Metz, Ernest Urtasun, Rasmus Andresen, Petra De Sutter; S&D: Sylwia Spurek, Sándor Rónai, Milan Brglez, Vera Tax, Birgit Sippel, Brando Benifei, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Dietmar Köster, Pina Picierno; Renew Europe: Karin Karlsbro, Nathalie Loiseau, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Svenja Hahn, Aurore Lalucq, Moritz Körner, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Barbara Ann Gibson (former MEP), Irène Tolleret, Petras Auštrevičius, Frédérique Ries, Olivier Chastel; EPP: Sirpa Pietikäinen.

[2] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-003685_EN.html

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/audiovisual-media-services-directive-avmsd 

[4] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-003685-ASW_EN.html

Press contacts:

Office of Terry Reintke MEP – Sebastian Fietkau (Sebastian.Fietkau@europarl.europa.eu

Office of Marc Angel MEP – Lisa Kersch (Lisa.Kersch@europarl.europa.eu)

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