Equal rights for LGBTI persons
The Council of Europe standards and mechanisms seek to promote and ensure respect for the human rights of every individual. These include equal rights and dignity of all human beings, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Based on the mandate given by Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity the division, especially through its SOGI Unit, which acts as the Council of Europe centre of expertise on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), provides technical support and expertise to member states, upon request, through cooperation activities aiming at improving the legal and institutional frameworks, builds capacity of administration staff and law enforcement, but also promotes the sharing of good practices and raises awareness.
Assisting member states to improve laws and policies
We have supported member states in reviewing national legislation and drafting national, regional or local policies such as on legal gender recognition and legal recognition of same sex couples and rainbow families in several countries, including Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Romania, Serbia and Spain. We also assisted states in developing and implementing national action plans addressing inequalities for LGBTI persons in various sectoral areas, such as access to justice, social rights, hate violence, etc. in Albania, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Portugal. These action plans contain concrete goals and clear timelines. The countries that have adopted such plans are reporting on the progress twice a year during the European LGBTI Governmental Focal Points Network (EFPN) meetings. Another key legal assistance priority is that in the execution of judgments of the ECHR. To date, we have assisted the execution process in Lithuania, North Macedonia, Romania and Georgia, providing expertise to review or adopt national legislation or recommendations on legal gender recognition and homophobic hate crime investigation.
LGBTI inclusion at the local level
We have worked with the topic of LGBTI inclusion at the local level, focussing on the benefits of the rights-based intercultural model. The intention is to provide concrete, relevant and directly applicable planning and policy perspectives for how cities can positively impact the lives of LGBTI individuals, touching on a range of issues for policy makers and city officials regarding the LGBTI population living in urban settings, and benefitting from the experience of LGBTI movements and advocates. We also organised targeted events including a “Building Bridges” conference in Warsaw, Poland, bringing together major stakeholders in order to forge new links and facilitate actions to enable LGBTI persons to access human rights.
Diversity in the workplace - a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression and Sex Characteristics approach
Exclusion from and discrimination in the workplace on SOGIESC grounds is a major obstacle to many LGBTI persons, reinforcing their social marginalisation and extreme hardships. We have launched a publication aimed at encouraging measures by national authorities, employers and other organisations active in the field to allow for inclusive employment, reducing discrimination and other forms of SOGIESC-based violence both in the workplace and when trying to access employment. We aim for our future activities in this field to be a complement to the European Commission LGBTIQ Equality Strategy.
SOGIESC-based discrimination and violence in the school environment
Our joint publication with UNESCO “Safe at School: Education sector responses to violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or sex characteristics in Europe” aims to encourage national authorities to put in place measures to prevent SOGIESC-based discrimination and violence. Among other activities, the Unit will undertake cooperation with the French education sector, aimed at encouraging tangible actions in this area.
We collaborate with EPAS, along with major actors, including global sporting authorities such as the International Olympic Committee, to put in place a broad array of educational and other measures allowing for better understanding, to encourage sporting authorities at all levels to put an end to rules which reinforce SOGIESC-based violence and exclusion.
We give assistance to Pride events in member States such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Romania, where Pride events are ground-breaking opportunities to raise visibility and awareness of the needs of LGBTI persons.
Training for a Professional Police Response
Based on the manual ‘Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons: Training for a Professional Police Response’ we can conduct training on hate crime against LGBTI persons for police trainers, investigators, managers, hate crime officers and frontline police officers working in countries across the Council of Europe region. We have already trained law enforcement agents in Albania, Lithuania, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia and Bulgaria. Please contact us ([email protected]) if you would like us to offer these trainings in your country.
LGBTI Inclusion and Equality Initiatives for the Intercultural City
This policy brief is directed to city officials looking for directly applicable planning and policy perspectives for how cities can positively impact the lives of LGBTI individuals
Manual ‘Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons: Training for a Professional Police Response’
The manual ‘Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons: Training for a Professional Police Response’ is intended for police trainers, investigators, managers, hate crime officers and frontline police officers working in countries across the Council of Europe region. Its purpose is to provide assistance, information and the appropriate tools for conducting trainings on hate crime against LGBTI persons. It builds on Council of Europe standards, especially on the European Convention on Human Rights and the relevant case law from the European Court of Human Rights, as well as other international human rights standards and already existing training materials for law enforcement officials. The manual served as the basis of training of law enforcement agents and has been adapted to: Albanian, (2020), Bosnian (2019) Bulgarian (2020), French (2017) Greek (2019),Georgian (2020) Italian (2021), Lithuanian (2021), Moldovan (2021) Montenegrin (2021) Portuguese (2019) Romanian (2021) Serbian (2020) Turkish (2018) Ukrainian (2021)
Glossary on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression and Sex Characteristics
Compendium of legislation and policies
Victim support by country
Ongoing and completed projects
Promotion of diversity and equality in the Western Balkans
The project aims to fight discrimination, protect minorities, ensure rights of LGBTI persons, combat hate speech, in line with COE standards. The project engages with national agencies, including law enforcement, prosecution services, and civil society partners and covers 6 countries.