A third of EU states are still failing to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians, a report by the bloc's rights watchdog found Tuesday.
The investigation, by the Vienna-based EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), was particularly critical of the lack of provision for same-sex marriages in many member countries.
"Equal protection by EU anti-discrimination law remains an ideal, not a fact, for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (LGBT) living in many parts of the European Union," the FRA said in a statement to coincide with the publication of the report.
FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said this was a "cause of concern," noting that "equal treatment is a fundamental right that all members of our society should enjoy."
"More comprehensive legal protection, as well as wider powers and resources for equality bodies are required," he added.
The FRA report found that only 18 of the EU's 27 members afforded equal rights for gays and lesbians in the areas of employment, housing, social aid and access to services.
And it noted there was little available data showing the number of discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation.
There was still a persistent social stigma which meant gays, lesbians and transsexuals were unwilling to describe themselves as such, it concluded.
The report also pushed for a more widespread right to marriage for gay couples.
"Rights and advantages of married couples should be extended to same-sex partnerships. This is equally relevant for rights and benefits for spouses and partners related to free movement and family reunification," the FRA said.
The report was commissioned by the European Parliament to help it draw up a European directive on discrimination.