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The European Union’s (EU) long history dates back to the 1950s, but its engagement with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues has been much shorter. It was only a decade ago that the treaty of Amsterdam empowered the EU to ‘combat discrimination based on sexual orientation.’ The dull-sounding Employment Framework Directive arose from this treaty, though its content was anything but dull. It compelled all EU states to ban discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the field of employment. Belinda Pyke, a director at the European commission DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, describes this as a ‘pivotal moment’, since the EU was ‘making a reality of something which was in the treaty.’ By 2003, firing someone because of their sexual orientation was illegal across the EU.

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