For equality in diversity

The principle of equality and non-discrimination is a fundamental element in the protection of human rights. It is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (article 14) and was reinforced by Protocol No.12 to the Convention, which in a general manner, provides that no-one shall be discriminated against on any ground by any public authority.

Homophobic acts which have occurred in several states unhappily point to systematic violation of the fundamental rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs). These occurrences have also shown that in many cases such injustice is condoned and sometimes even actively supported by the very authorities whose strict duty it is to protect their citizens against all discrimination.

The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities have issued several recommendations and resolutions calling upon governments and local authorities to take the requisite measures to combat incitement to homophobia.

2015 edition 2015 edition
BUDVA (Montenegro),  11 May 2015

IDAHO Forum 2015

No cultural, traditional, religious values can justify hate crime and violence against LGBT people – Council of Europe participates in IDAHO Forum in Montenegro

The Council of Europe  representatives are among key participants in the IDAHO Forum 2015 “Ending hate crime and violence” organised by the Government of Montenegro, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia celebrated on 17 May.

Snezana Samardžić-Marković, Director General of Democracy of the Council of Europe, delivered a keynote speech at the Forum today saying that hate crime and violence against LGBT people are among the most persistent human rights challenges, with homophobic and transphobic incidents, the so-called “corrective rapes”, forced marriages, physical and emotional violence, family and community rejection, bullying and discrimination still being a sad reality in Europe. A sound legal and policy framework is needed to effectively counter these crimes.

Today in Budva, the Council of Europe has also launched a new publication on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on sexual orientation and gender identity. The new publication looks at the key articles of the Convention under which violations of LGBT rights may fall, and also analyzes solutions applicable at the European level, and those which are decided largely by the states, e.g. related to adoptions and marriages. The publication is meant for human rights professionals, researchers and students.

Speech by Snežana Samardžić-Marković

See also:
All efforts must be made to eradicate hate and violence against LGBT people in Europe, says Secretary General

Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT)

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

Statistics from the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner in 2011 showed that what looks like progress on the surface often masks the fact that homosexuality is still hated by over 80% of people in some European countries, and that nine of the Council of Europe member states have no anti-discrimination legislation pertaining to gay rights at all. Whilst same sex marriages are allowed in seven countries, and 13 others accept some form of civil partnership, others not only prevent same sex marriage but do not allow gay people planning to marry or conduct a civil partnership abroad access to the necessary paperwork.

Council of Europe to advance human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons

The Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland welcomed the decision of the Committee of Ministers on 31 March 2010 to adopt a recommendation to member states on measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. ''The recommendation is an expression of the Council of Europe's commitment to the equality for all and respect for the dignity of all,'' he declared. (more ...)

The Parliamentary Assembly on 29 April 2010 also called on European States to guarantee ''legal recognition of same-sex partnerships only when national legislation envisages such recognition'' and provide for the possibility of ''joint parental responsibility'' for each partner's children ''bearing in mind the interests of children.'' (more...)

On 17 October 2012, the Current Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities decided to prepare a report on LGBT persons' rights. Ms Yoomi Renström (Sweden) will be the rapporteur. This document will deal with the role of local and regional authorities in insuring respect of LGBT people's rights.

Additionally, in order to help member states in their efforts to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, the project "Combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBT Project)" was launched in September 2011.

Case law of the Court

Whilst for many LGBT people in Europe life has become easier and society more tolerant, they face still many other obstacles. The European Court of Human Rights has been asked to judge cases involving the banning of gay pride parades and discrimination in granting social rights, with a number of applications pending on the laws which criminalise "homosexual propaganda".