The Current Affairs Committee adopted on 10 February a report, resolution and recommendation calling on local and regional authorities to step up the fight against hatred and discrimination against LGBTI people. These documents contain concrete recommendations including on the promotion of their rights, inclusion and well-being as well as on the safety of young LGBTI people, which is under serious threat in many countries.
"It is dramatic that LGBTI rights have been declining all over Europe" deplored Andrew Boff, (United Kingdom, CRE) and Yoomi Renström, (Sweden, SOC/G/PD), co-rapporteurs of the report "The role and responsibilities of local and regional authorities in the protection of LGBTI persons" adopted today almost unanimously. Andrew Boff painted a disturbing picture of violations of their rights in a number of countries, also stigmatising the attacks they are frequently subjected to. Whether by calling pride marches "perverse parades" or banning marriages and adoptions, LGBTI people suffer increasing humiliation and are frequently accused of "promoting ideologies hostile to the family".
Drawing attention to the way in which some public authorities are attempting to renege on commitments made in international agreements in this regard and the impediments to implementation and the weakening of accountability and inclusion mechanisms, the rapporteur cited examples from Russia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary and Serbia. He noted, however, that the rejection of the LGBTI is far from being limited to these countries. Frequently stirred up by groups of young 'activist' people "in Belgium, France, Austria and Italy in particular" hate speech against LGBTI people "is also expressed against women and all minorities". In this context, local and regional elected representatives must mobilise in an exemplary manner against these abuses, which threaten not only individuals but also the social cohesion of all countries, he continued.
The protection of the LGBTI is part of the missions of local and regional authorities.
Yoomi Renström believes that it is important to act in a cross-cutting way to promote equal rights and combat discrimination. Strengthening social rights, but also appointing "diversity experts", creating safe spaces or promoting dialogue through sport are among the areas explored by the report. The resolution recalls the role of local authorities in the protection of human rights and therefore their duties towards LGBTI people. Local and regional elected representatives must also work in cooperation with States to put in place national plans against discrimination. "Close to the people, we must promote inclusion of all, and we will not have achieved our goal as long as LGBTI people are discriminated against," she added.
During the debate, Thomas Andersson (Sweden, ILDG) recalled that "hatred must never be tolerated" and called on local and regional elected representatives to be "exemplary in their refusal of discrimination". For John Warmisham (United Kingdom, SOC/G/PD), homophobia is growing worldwide and it is frightening to see politicians pointing the finger at someone because of their sexual orientation". Josef Frey (Germany, SOC/G/PD) stressed that LGBTI rights are particularly threatened in countries where democracy is regressing. As a counter-example to homophobia he presented a booklet to help young LGBTI people to dedramatise their 'coming out', produced in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Mette Gundersen (Norway, SOC/G/PD) cited an educational campaign that is currently running in schools in her city to say no to harassment and hate speech. Brigitte van den Berg (Netherlands, ILDG) said that local and regional authorities should show and illustrate gender diversity, including in their communication policies.
Furthermore, all speakers agreed with the rapporteurs that a society that discriminates against LGBTI today will discriminate against other groups and communities: it is therefore a global human rights issue, which needs to be addressed urgently.
Finally, the Committee discussed the mission findings carried out this autumn on discrimination against LGBTI people in Poland, particularly through hostile campaigns and the establishment of "LGBTI free zones" and decided to prepare a resolution on this issue.
- Agenda of the Committee meeting - 10 February 2021
- Report on Guaranteeing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTI) people’s rights: a responsibility for Europe’s towns and regions
- Human Rights Handbook for Local and Regional Authorities vol. 1 (Page: 123, LGBTI)
- Congress thematic file