LGBTI persons are often victims of discrimination, social exclusion and violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These behaviours are manifestations of homophobia and/or transphobia. For several years the Congress of the Council of Europe has been working to combat discrimination against LGBTI people by addressing recommendations to local and regional as well as national authorities. It also organises fact-finding missions to examine particular situations in certain countries.
The Congress Current Affairs Committee is preparing a new report on the role and responsibilities of local governments in protecting LGBTI persons, to be adopted in 2021.
The Congress conducted a remote fact-finding mission on 2 and 3 November 2020 on the situation of LGBTI people in Poland. This mission follows a request from members of the Polish parliament regarding the increasing attacks and discrimination against LGBTI people. The delegation comprised...
On Wednesday 25 March 2015, the Congress debated and adopted the resolution and recommendation presented by Yoomi Renström (Sweden, SOC) on “Guaranteeing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTI) people’s rights: a responsibility for Europe’s towns and regions”. The text calls on local and...
The Congress published in 2019 "Human rights handbook for local and regional authorities". One of its three chapters aims to combating discrimination against LGBTI people. Examples presented include the establishment of codes of conduct prohibiting discriminatory attitudes towards LGBTI people, training of officials including municipal police officers and consultation with the LGBTI community in the development of local policies. Some of the issues addressed in the Handbook are presented below. To view the whole content, download the Handbook in PDF format.
Definitions (p. 124-125)
Knowing what exactly “LGBTI” means is the first step to not only appropriately using this term in the public discourse but also to developing effective LGBTI-inclusive policies. LGBTI is an umbrella term, an initialism for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons. Below is a specific definition of each category.
- Lesbian: women who form sexual and affectionate relationships with women.
- Gay: men who form sexual and affectionate relationships with men.
- Bisexual: men and women attracted to and having sexual relations with both sexes.
- Transgender: also know as Third Gender, these are people who identify themselves with a gender identity other than the one that was assigned to their biological sex at birth or people who view their gender as more fluid than the strictly male or female gender categories allow.
- Intersex: people born with chromosomal, hormonal levels or genital characteristics which do not correspond to the given standart or "male" or "female" categories for sexual or reproductive anatomy. Intersex status is not about sexual orientations or gender identities.
What are their rights? (p. 128-129)
International human rigths law applies to LGBI+ people as it does to everyone else, without distinction of any kind. In short, LGBTI+ people have the same rights and freedoms as other individuals :
- Right to safety
- Right to housing
- Right to social security
- Right to health care
- Right to education
- Right to privacy
Challenges (p. 130-131)
While progress has been made, such as the recognition of same-sex marriage by 14 Council of Europe member States. LGBTI+ people suffer from negative attitudes especially in access to employment, housing or health but also from domestic violence, bullying and harassment and are deprived of legal recognition.
Local authorities are at the forefront of the fight against discrimination against LGBTI+ people. Public policies may meet some opposition due to the historical, political and legislative context of the country but also due to the religious and moral beliefs of the population.
Responses (p. 132-150)
The Congress gathered a set of good practices that have been successfully implemented by local and regional authorities that have actively advocate for the inclusion of their LGBTI+ communities including :
- Access to social rights and services (including employment, healthcare and housing)
- Developments in local and regional legislation
- Awareness-raising, education, visibility and mainstreaming in policy-making processes
- Co-operation between authorities
- Safety and security
The Congress proposes a set of recommendations aimed at :
- Improving access to social rights and services
- Recognising LGBTI rights in local and regional legislation
- Raising awareness, enhancing visibility of the LGBTI community and mainstreaming their rights in policy-making processes
- Promoting co-operation between authorities
- Protecting LGBTI communities and improving their safety and security