"Homophobia is on the rise across Europe. New and more virulent discourses are emerging. These statements are unacceptable, dangerous and can lead to a violation of the rights of LGBTI people," said Andrew Boff (UK, ECR), Congress rapporteur on LGBTI issues, on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. "Every day people are threatened, verbally and physically abused and live in fear of being who they are and showing who they love. We need to counter this worrying trend" added Mr Boff.
"As local elected representatives we have a duty to protect the human rights of all our citizens, including LGBTI people, as our communities must be fair, inclusive and safe places for all", the rapporteur stressed. "It is not enough to denounce anti-LGBTI speech, we must also condemn it, especially when it is promulgated by our peers," he warned, stressing the need for authorities to set a good example.
"We need to use this day, not just to make statements and wave flags, but to take concrete action. Local and regional authorities must ensure that they reduce the barriers to reporting anti-LGBTI hate speech and crimes to local law enforcement. Therefore, I invite them to take inspiration from the “Human Rights handbook for Local and Regional Authorities”, said rapporteur Boff. One chapter of the handbook is entirely dedicated to good practices for the inclusion and defense of the rights of LGBTI persons. Examples include the establishment of codes of conduct prohibiting discrimination against LGBTI persons, training of officials, including municipal police officers, and consultation with the LGBTI community in the development of local policies.
"As mayors, councillors and regional representatives we can make a difference", concluded Andrew Boff.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has been working on LGBTI issues since 2007, including freedom of assembly and guaranteeing their fundamental rights. At its June 2021 session, the Congress will vote on the report "Protecting LGBTI persons in the context of rising hate speech and anti-LGBTI discrimination: the role of local and regional authorities". In addition, the Current Affairs Committee conducted a fact-finding mission to Poland in 2020, the findings of which were approved on 10 February 2021. A resolution based on these findings will be presented to the Congress session in June 2021.