Freedom of movement for LGBT people
The free movement of people (as well as goods, capital and services, also known as the ‘Four Freedoms’) are at the core of the European Union. For EU citizens, this means that going from one EU Member State to the next for most purposes shouldn’t require more than an ID card or passport.
The Treaty on European Union (one of the two texts known as the Treaty of Lisbon) stresses the importance of freedom of movement:
The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.
Article 3, paragraph 2, Treaty on European Union
The Charter of Fundamental Rights gives an equally clear statement:
1. Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.
2. Freedom of movement and residence may be granted, in accordance with the Treaties, to nationals of third countries legally resident in the territory of a Member State.
Article 45, Charter of Fundamental Rights
Why is this a priority?
In effect, freedom of movement may not be guaranteed to all EU citizens or their spouses in the same way. Although the law should apply equally to everyone, in practice, lesbian and gay couples can face difficulties when trying to have their partnership and the relevant rights recognised in another EU country. For instance, two women legally married in the Netherlands may lose pension, inheritance, next-of-kin or child custody rights when moving to Ireland, France or Romania.
Similarly, the civil status of transgender people may not be easily recognised across several EU Member States, which causes problem to study, work, or receive healthcare support in several EU countries. Transgender people also report potential issues at border checks when travelling.
What is the Intergroup doing?
During the 2010-2014 parliamentary term, freedom of movement will be particularly affected by the Stockholm Programme, the European Commission’s policies in the areas of justice, freedom and security for European citizens until the year 2014. The position of the European Parliament is clear, and states that freedom of movement must be secured for all citizens without discrimination, including sexual orientation. The Intergroup is monitoring developments around the Stockholm Programme, and already issued warnings about not considering universal freedom of movement as a priority.
The Intergroup also occasionally facilitates contact between citizens whose freedom of movement is affected by their gender identity or sexual orientation on the one hand, and national politicians or relevant local authorities on the other hand.