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
12/06/2014 - 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
16/05/2014 - 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.
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09/05/2014 - 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 .
On 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