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Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity

Link to the manual on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity

Link to Council of Europe activities with regard to LGBT persons

Presentation

The Council of Europe’s commitment to ensure and to promote respect for the human rights of every individual, including of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT), has a long history and all its bodies have played their role in it. The first recommendation in the field dates back to 1981, Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 924(1981) on discrimination against homosexuals.

The Committee of Ministers waited until 1997 to adopt Recommendations n°R(97)20 on hate speech and n°R(97)21 on the media and the promotion of a culture of tolerance, which do not explicitly refer to LGBT persons. After its message of July 2008 (1031st meeting), inviting all Council of Europe’s intergovernmental committees to give due attention in their activities to the need to prevent and to remedy any discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity as well as to strengthen the equal rights and dignity of LGBT persons, the Committee of Ministers adopted, on 31 March 2010, Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

This recommendation is the first legal intergovernmental instrument in Europe dealing specifically and comprehensively with this form of discrimination. It contains, in its Appendix, a number of relevant principles and concrete measures which should be adopted by member states in order to combat this discrimination and to ensure respect for fundamental rights of LGBT persons. It was drafted by the Committee of experts on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (DH-LGBT).

In September 2012, the Ministers’ Deputies (1151st meeting) asked the CDDH to prepare a questionnaire to collect information from member states and to draft a report for the 31 March 2013 at the latest.


Follow-up to Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5

Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity   CM/Rec(2010)5
 Explanatory memorandum to Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 CM(2010)4add3 fin
 Replies to the questionnaire on the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 Replies
 Report on the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5   Report

 

Since then, the Parliamentary Assembly has adopted several other texts, notably Recommendation 1915(2010) on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity from 2010, on the basis of a report containing a thorough analysis of the situation in CoE member states of existing stereotypes, prejudices, factors and forms of discrimination towards LGBT persons, and Resolution 1728(2010). Recently, the Assembly has reiterated its deep concern about the infringements at LGBT persons’ human rights in Recommendation 2021(2013) and Resolution 1948(2013) "Tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity".

Given the role played by local authorities in authorising or banning LGBT events, the Congress of Local and Regional authorities adopted in 2007 Recommendation 211(2007) on freedom of assembly and expression by LGBT persons. In this recommendation, it invited member states to ensure that fundamental rights of LGBT are implemented at local level, including their access to a court in case of restrictions or bans of specific events.

The Commissioner for human rights has also been very active in regularly addressing the question of homophobia, hate speech and intolerance. In 2009, he has published an Issue Paper on Human Rights and Gender Identity. In 2010, he carried out, in co-operation with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, a comparative study on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Council of Europe member states.

Finally, the case-law of the European Court has been essential in combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It has recognized violations of the Convention, when such violations took place, insofar as the human rights of LGBT persons were at stake (case-law factsheets on homosexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation).