Human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI)

Despite progress in many areas over the last decades, people in Europe are still stigmatised because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons cannot fully enjoy their universal human rights. They run a risk of becoming victims of hate crime and may not receive protection when attacked in the street by fellow citizens.

Some LGBTI organisations are denied registration or are banned from organising peaceful meetings and demonstrations in Europe. The freedom of expression of LGBTI people has also been subject to unjustified restrictions. Many LGBTI persons have fled to Council of Europe member states from countries where their human rights are not protected and they may even risk being tortured or executed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Too few opinion leaders and leading politicians have taken a firm stand against homophobic and transphobic expressions, discrimination and violence. The Commissioner for Human Rights has therefore put the human rights of LGBTI persons and the fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics firmly on his agenda.

The Commissioner regularly raises this topic with authorities in member states, and has expressed his concerns in country monitoring reports and specific thematic publications, such as the Issue Paper on Human Rights and Gender Identity.

In 2011 the Commissioner launched a detailed report on 'Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity', covering all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. In May 2015 the Commissioner published an Issue Paper on human rights and intersex people.

Human rights and intersex people (2015)
Traces the steps which have already been taken towards understanding and responding to the situation of intersex people from an ethical and human rights perspective. It urges governments to end medically unnecessary “normalising“ treatment of intersex people when it takes place without their free and fully informed consent. It also suggests ways forward in terms of protection against discrimination, adequate recognition of sex on official documents and access to justice.

Issue paper available in English and French

Opening video message for the European Intersex Forum in Dournenez

Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe (2011 - 2nd edition)

This report presents the results of the largest socio-legal study ever carried out on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Six thematic chapters give a broad overview of the human rights situation of LGBT persons and recommendations are provided for developing and implementing effective measures to address discrimination.

Report available in: English | Russian 
Order the report:

Available translations of selected sections of the report: Bosnian/Serbian | Croatian | Turkish
(Foreword, Introduction, Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations)

Background document to the report

Launch of the report - Speeches and Statements

- Opening speech by Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
- Intervention of Rt Hon Dominic Grieve, QP, MP, Attorney General for England and Wales
- Intervention of Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Minister of Justice, Germany (forthcoming)
- Statement of Jasenko Selimovic, State Secretary, Ministry of Employment, Sweden
- Statement of Lionel Veer, Human Rights Ambassador, the Netherlands
- Statement of Morten Kjaerum, Director, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
- Statement of Richard Köhler and Julia Ehrt, Vice-chairs of Transgender Europe
- Statement of Ambassador Petter F. Wille, Permanent Representative of Norway to the Council of Europe
- Statement of Jan Jarab, Regional Representative for Europe of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Statement of Helena Nygren-Krug, Health and Human Rights Adviser, World Health Organization
- Statement of Michel Pasteel, Director, Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, Belgium

A documentary on the launch of the report
See the long version (15') / short version (2')


Commissioner's contribution to the work of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) and the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) in the area of LGBT human rights

Overview of Council of Europe activities in the area of LGBT human rights:
Fight against homophobia: for equality in diversity

Factsheets from the European Court of Human Rights regarding case law on:
- Homosexual rights
- Homosexuality: criminal aspects
- Transsexuals' rights

Book :
Combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity - Council of Europe standards (2011)

Issue paper:
Human rights and gender identity (2009)