Human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI)

Despite progress in many areas over the last decades, people in Europe are still stigmatised because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons cannot fully enjoy their universal human rights. They run a risk of becoming victims of hate crime and may not receive protection when attacked in the street by fellow citizens.

Some LGBTI organisations are denied registration or are banned from organising peaceful meetings and demonstrations in Europe. The freedom of expression of LGBTI people has also been subject to unjustified restrictions. Many LGBTI persons have fled to Council of Europe member states from countries where their human rights are not protected and they may even risk being tortured or executed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Too few opinion leaders and leading politicians have taken a firm stand against homophobic and transphobic expressions, discrimination and violence. The Commissioner for Human Rights has therefore put the human rights of LGBTI persons and the fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics firmly on his agenda.

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

In 2011, the Commissioner launched a detailed report on 'Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity', covering all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. In May 2015 the Commissioner published an Issue Paper on human rights and intersex people.

Human rights and intersex people (2015)
Traces the steps which have already been taken towards understanding and responding to the situation of intersex people from an ethical and human rights perspective. It urges governments to end medically unnecessary “normalising“ treatment of intersex people when it takes place without their free and fully informed consent. It also suggests ways forward in terms of protection against discrimination, adequate recognition of sex on official documents and access to justice.

Issue paper available in English and French

Opening video message for the European Intersex Forum in Douarnenez

Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe (2011 - 2nd edition)

This report presents the results of the largest socio-legal study ever carried out on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Six thematic chapters give a broad overview of the human rights situation of LGBT persons and recommendations are provided for developing and implementing effective measures to address discrimination.

Report available in: English | French | Russian 
Order the report:

Available translations of selected sections of the report: Bosnian/Serbian | Croatian | Turkish
(Foreword, Introduction, Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations)

Background document to the report

Opinion articles



Issue paper