BRUSSELS, September 26, 2006 –
The Latvian Parliament voted last week to support an amendment to the
country’s Labour Law that will explicitly ban sexual orientation
discrimination in employment.
Until the vote, Latvia was the only
member state of the European Union which failed to comply with provisions of
the 2000 European Union employment equality directive requiring EU member
states to protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual
In a statement, ILGA-Europe
welcomed this long-awaited decision and thanked the Latvian politicians who
supported this amendment and stood against prejudice and discrimination.
However, ILGA-Europe remains
concerned that it took Latvia such a long and bitter battle to implement
this legislation despite the country’s obligation as EU member state to
implement EU directives.
During the parliamentary debate,
some Latvian parliamentarians once again expressed open hatred and prejudice
towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
ILGA-Europe is also concerned that
the decision to implement the EU directive was taken with a relatively
marginal majority (46 parliamentarians in favour, 35 against, 3 abstained
and 9 did not vote).
In addition, this vote only comes
after the President of Latvia returned this amended legislation back to the
Parliament for reconsideration after a first rejection by Latvian
“We welcome this decision of the
Latvian Parliament to ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment,”
said Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe.
“Latvia finally cemented in its
legislation one of the key EU principles which is that no one in the
European Union should be discriminated against in the labour market because
of their sexuality. We are glad that enough Latvian parliamentarians had the
courage to adopt this legislation as part of Latvia’s commitment to values
of equality and non-discrimination and prevent unnecessary, costly and
embarrassing infringement procedures.
“We can finally conclude that six
years after its adoption, the Directive’s requirement to ban sexual
orientation discrimination in employment will soon be transposed in all EU
member states,” she concluded.