For many years the focus of EU action in the field of non-discrimination was on preventing discrimination on the grounds of nationality and gender. In 1997, however, the Member States approved unanimously the Treaty of Amsterdam. Article 13 of this new Treaty granted the Community new powers to combat discrimination on the grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Since the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force in 1999, new EC laws, or Directives, that have been enacted in the area of anti-discrimination are the Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC and the Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC. Council Directive 2000/43/EC implements the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, and Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishes a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation and includes sexual orientation.
The Annual Report 2006 on Equality and Non-discrimination of the European Union presents an overview of national anti-discrimination legislation in most European Countries.
Federal level: Concerns all grounds (except disability) in two Directives and sex:
Federal Equal Treatment Act (adopted 1979, amended 2004), Equal Treatment Act, Law on the Equal Treatment Commission and the Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities (all in force from
Federal level: Concerns all grounds in two Directives and additional grounds including sex:
Law of 25 February 2003 on combating discrimination (explicitly naming sexual orientation) and amending the Act of 15 February 1993 setting up the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism; Concerns race and ethnic origin and other grounds: Law of 30 July 1981 criminalising certain acts inspired by racism or xenophobia as amended by the Laws of 12 April 1994, of 7 May 1999, and of 20 January 2003. Regional level: Concerns all grounds: Flemish Region/Community: Decree of 8 May 2002 on proportionate participation in the employment market; French speaking Community: Decree of 19 May 2004 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment; Walloon Region Decree of 27 May 2004 on the equal treatment in employment and professional training; German-speaking Community: Decree of 17 May 2004 on the guarantee of equal treatment on the labour market; Brussels Capital region: Ordinance of 26 June 2003 on the mixed management of the employment market in the Brussels-Capital region.
Concerns all grounds in two Directives and additional grounds including sex: Industrial Relations Law, amended 2001; Law on the Federal Employee Representation Law 1975, amended 2005; Concerns disability: Law on Promoting the Equality of the Disabled Concerns age and disability: Law on the Protection against Unfair Dismissal, Social Code. Concerns all grounds in two Directives and additional grounds including sex: The Law Transposing the European Directives Realising the Principle of Equal Treatment from 18 August 2006 (generally transposes Directive 2000/43 and 2000/78 into German law).
Great Britain: Concerns racial and ethnic origin: Race Relations Act 1976, last amended by the Race Relations in 2003. Northern Ireland: Race Relations (NI) Order 1997, last amended by Race Relations Regulations 2003; Concerns disability: Great Britain: Disability Discrimination Act 2005 amends the Disability Discrimination 1995 already amended in 2003 (entered into force on 30 June 2005 with the positive duty coming into force in December 2006); Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Pensions) Regulations 2003; Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001; The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) (Further and Higher Education) Regulations 2006 Northern Ireland: Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2004; Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005.
Concerns sexual orientation:
Concerns religion: Law on Separation of Church and State 1905; Law on secularity in public schools n° 2004-228 of
Concerns grounds of race/ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation and additional grounds including sex: General Equal Treatment Act of 1994, amended by EC Implementation Act 2004 and by a Law (“Wet tot wijziging van de Algemene Wet Gelijke Behandeling; Evaluatiewet Awgb) of 15 September 2005; Concerns age: Equal Treatment in Employment (Age Discrimination) Act of 17 December 2003; Concerns disability: Act on Equal Treatment on the grounds of disability or chronic disease of 3 April 2003; Amendments to the Criminal Code (any discrimination on the ground of a person’s physical, psychological or mental disability is prohibited).
Concerns all grounds in the two Directives: Law 62/2003 of 30 December on fiscal, administrative and social measures; Legal Decree 5/2000 of 4 August 2000, (Law on Infractions and Sanctions on the Social Order, amended January 2004); Concerns age: Law 14/2005 of 1 July 2005; Concerns disability: Decree 1865/2004 creating the National Disability Council, Law 51/2003 of 2 December on Equal Opportunities, Non-discrimination and Universal Access for Persons with Disability.