Today, the European Parliament redefined the priorities of the European Social Fund (ESF) for rest of this decade. For the first time, the Fund will contribute to combating discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The ESF is one of the EU’s structural funds, designed to build social and economic cohesion in the EU. It is the main way the EU seeks to promote employment, and currently makes up about 10 per cent of the EU’s budget.
One of the fund’s priorities is to promote equal opportunities. With today’s resolution, the Parliament insisted the Fund should also aim to combat discrimination.
Today’s binding resolution specifies that discrimination based on sex should be interpreted broadly, including discrimination against (at least some) trans people, in line with EU Court of Justice rulings. It states:
(11) […] the implementation of the priorities financed by the ESF should contribute to combating discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation […]; discrimination on the ground of sex should be interpreted in a broad sense so as to cover other gender-related aspects in line with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The Court of Justice of the EU has ruled several times that people who are planning to undergo or have undergone gender reassignment surgery may not be discriminated against, as this constitutes sex discrimination, which is forbidden under EU law.
Jen Yockney from BiPhoria, the UK’s longest-running bisexual organisation, welcomed the news. “We have long known that biphobia, transphobia and homophobia at school and college, at home and in wider society damages the educational attainments of bi, gay and trans people. In turn our earnings and career paths suffer as well as impacts on health and well-being.”
“For the first time now protection against discrimination including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is a funding priority in the ESF’s work . It’s a welcome step towards a more inclusive Social Fund by the European Parliament that may in turn improve life chances of LGBT people across the EU.”