European Union

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The European flag
The European Union is a union of 27 European states, which included the UK until Brexit on 31 January 2020. In its present form it was founded by the Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed in 2007 and came into force in 2009, but its origins date back to the 1950s. The United Kingdom joined the then European Economic Community in 1973, and this was confirmed by a referendum in 1975.

In 2016 the UK voted in a referendum to leave the Union, and this took place on 31 January 2020.

The main institutions of the EU include:

  • the European Council (comprising the presidents or prime ministers of the 28 member states)
  • the Council of the European Union
  • the European Commission
  • the European Parliament
  • the European Court of Justice (not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights).

LGBT history

In June 2016, the Council of the European Union agreed that all 28 states would work against any discrimination against LGBT people.[1]


  1. Nick Duffy, "All 28 EU member states reach consensus on LGBT rights for first time", Pink News, 20 June 2016.