Combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity

Sexual orientation and gender identity : The first international human rights instrument against discrimination

The Council of Europe’s standards and mechanisms seek to promote and ensure respect for the human rights of every individual. These include equal rights and dignity of all human beings, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

In our societies, homophobia and intolerance towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are still widespread. Many of them are still suffering from discrimination, violence and exclusion on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is not compatible with Council of Europe standards.  Continue reading


Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission (ECRI) publishes new reports

16/09/2014 - Today the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published four new reports on the fight against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and racial discrimination in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. The reports examine the situation of LGBT persons in these member states with regard to legislative measures and policies to combat discrimination and intolerance on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lien vers les communiqués de presse

Adequate and equal legal protection for all families

12/09/2014 - “The European Court of Human Rights in its judgments has extended the principle of non-discrimination in matters relating to rights and obligations of same-sex couples and parent-child relationships in rainbow families, and held that the notion of “family life” includes the relationship between two same-sex partners and the child of one of them living together in the same household, whatever the circumstances of the child’s birth. The Court’s judgments are reflected in the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)5 to member states on combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, the first international instrument to specifically address human rights of LGBT people. It identifies specific measures to be adopted and effectively endorsed by member states to combat discrimination, ensure respect for LGBT persons, promote tolerance towards them and ensure that victims have access to legal measures.” Council of Europe standards and work to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are presented in this year’s report on the International Family Equality Day (IFED).

The European Court of Human Rights rules on change of marital status as requirement for legal gender recognition for trans persons

17/07/2014 - On 16 July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights has delivered its Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Hämäläinen v. Finland (app. no. 37359/09). In its judgment, the Court held that a change of marital status for a trans person, as a requirement for legal gender recognition, does not constitute a violation of human rights.



Recognition of same-sex partnerships in Council of Europe member states: the Parliament of Croatia adopts Law on Life Partnership

16/07/2014 - Yesterday Croatia’s parliament adopted a Law on Life Partnership which will officially recognize same-sex couples. The law will grant same-sex couples most of the same rights that married couples enjoy excluding the possibility to adopt. Just a month ago the parliamentarians in Luxembourg voted for opening marriage (including adoption rights) for same-sex couples.

After the decisions in Croatia and Luxembourg 12* member states recognize same-sex couples through a registered partnership or a civil union and 11** Council of Europe member states have opened up marriage to same-sex couples.

** Number includes only countries where registered partnership/civil union provides the most comprehensive recognition for same-sex couples.

** Number includes United Kingdom where same-sex couples can marry in England, Wales and Scotland.

United for Dignity

15/07/2014 - On 26-28 June Council of Europe Youth department, Sexual orientation and gender identity Unit and the Support Team of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues joined forces to organise a conference focusing on multiple discrimination of young Roma. The conference brought together youth organisations, Roma and non-Roma, which work on non-discrimination, researchers and policy makers. The conference explored more specifically multiple identities and multiple discrimination at the intersections of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability and migrant status. In fall 2014 the Council of Europe will publish a compilation of life stories of young Roma which will paint a picture of experience of multiple discrimination.  Read more (video...)

International Pride Day marked with action “Hate-Free Zone” in Belgrade

10/07/2014 - On 27 June the Council of Europe office in Belgrade joined an event to mark International Pride Day. It was organised by several NGOs and was held under the slogan Hate-Free Zone. The main objective of the action was to highlight intolerance towards the LGBT community, but also towards other minorities and disadvantaged groups and individuals and to symbolically “free” public places in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia from hate. The event which took place in Belgrade comprised of a short walk through central town. Serbian Commissioner for Protection of Equality Nevena Petrušić, Deputy Ombudsman Gordana Stevanović and several diplomatic delegations were present. The Council of Europe office took part in the action led by Antje Rothmund, the head of office.  Read more

Denmark adopts new legislation on legal gender recognition

Denmark12/06/2014 - On 11 June Denmark passed legislation which allows legal gender recognition for transgender people based on their self-determination. Legal gender recognition is the process which allows transgender people to change their name and gendered information on official key documents in accordance with their gender identity.  Continue reading

LGBT rights are human rights, not special rights

Video SOGI16/05/2014 - In an interview with the Associated Press about the International Day Against Homophobia, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland says that he is “optimistic” about Europe “going in the right direction” on measures to combat discrimination against LGBT people.

Please click here to watch our new video spot on LGBT rights.

A boy or a girl or a person – intersex people lack recognition in Europe

Intersex09/05/2014 - On 1 March, Fox News presenter Clayton Morris had to apologise for his ‘ignorant and stupid’ comments mocking the new gender options for Facebook profiles which allow users to register as intersex. The TV presenter had ridiculed the move of the social media company referring to intersex by saying “whatever that is”. This case illustrates the prejudice and ignorance surrounding the reality of individuals who cannot be clearly classified as male or female at birth. Most countries worldwide still neglect this human rights problem and intersex people remain invisible to the majority.

The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia of 17 May is also aimed at highlighting the struggle against the discrimination and prejudice suffered by intersex people. The word “intersex” has replaced “hermaphrodite”, which was widely used by medical practitioners during the 18th and 19th centuries. The social expectations for either a girl or a boy at birth, or a woman or a man in society, are the source of the problems intersex people face. Society does not usually recognise a person without reference to their sex. Yet intersex individuals’ chromosomal, anatomical or gonadal characteristics do not belong exclusively to either sex. This is why intersex persons encounter huge barriers to the enjoyment of their human rights. Continue reading .

Malta recognises same-sex civil partnerships

Malta ParliamentOn Monday April 14th the Maltese parliament passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter civil unions. The legislation provides same-sex couples also with the right to apply for joint adoption. After the Maltese decision there are now 22 Council of Europe member states which legally recognize same-sex couples.

On the same day the Maltese parliament passed an amendment to the country’s constitution including sexual orientation and gender identity among the grounds of prohibited discrimination. Malta became the first European country to mention gender identity as a prohibited discrimination ground in its Constitution. More