Enforcement of Non-Discrimination Law and Sexual Minority Rights in the EU: Evidence from Poland

The principle of equality and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation are enshrined in the EU Treaties, a strong baseline is also laid down in secondary EU legislation. However, the impact of the respective provisions is constrained in two ways: by challenges to their enforcement and, regarding the secondary EU law, by the limited scope of non-discrimination rules.

This paper seeks to take stock of the EU non-discrimination law with respect to sexual minority rights as well as enforcement mechanisms applied by the EU to safeguard its implementation by the Member States. To that end we analyse the case of Poland where discriminating local government resolutions on “LGBT-ideology free zones” or even “ LGBT-free zones” triggered tangible countermeasures by the EU, including financial sanctions. The paper identifies systemic weaknesses in existing enforcement mechanisms and concludes by pointing to regulatory policy which could address them.