European Union governments have been urged to support new legislation which would provide protection from discrimination on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation.

The call was made in a letter from the New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to leaders of all 27 EU member states.

“No citizen within the EU should have less protection or less equality than others,” said Boris Dittrich, from HRW.

“An inclusive directive will be a vital step to end discrimination against the millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people living in the European Union.”

Earlier this month the European Commission published its “Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

The proposal came after weeks of controversy over whether to include sexual orientation in the new set of protections.

EU law currently requires states to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender or race in a broad range of areas.

However, prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, disability, age or religion or belief is currently limited to the area of employment and training.

The Council of the European Union must now decide whether to support or reject the commission’s proposal – a process which could take some time. Each member state has the right to veto the proposal, and all must approve it in order for it to be enacted.

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