"The rights of LGBTI people are increasingly under threat today: they are four times more likely than non-LGBTI people to be victims of violent crime," lamented Congress Rapporteur on LGBTI issues Andrew Boff (UK, ECR) at the "Building Bridges" conference. The event, organized by the Council of Europe's SOGI Unit, was held in Warsaw and online on 10 December 2021. Participants discussed the levers for protecting the human rights of LGBTI people in Poland. This comes in light of two reports adopted by the Congress in 2021 on the role of local and regional authorities in protecting LGBTI people in a context of both rising hate speech and discrimination and the situation of LGBTI people in Poland.
"When we talk about human rights, we need to make sure we are talking about human rights for all, including LGBTI people," Boff said, emphasizing the crucial role of the local level where the effects of hate speech are most visible. "During our fact-finding mission to Poland in 2020, we saw the profound impact that hate speech has on the daily lives of LGBTI people in Poland, especially on young people," he said.
"Nevertheless, we have seen recent examples of positive developments which we must support," the Congress rapporteur said. For example, in Poland, there is stronger cooperation between cities for inclusion, while several cities and regions have rescinded their anti-LGBTI statements. More broadly, in Europe, many cities and regions have developed initiatives in favour of LGBTI rights.
The Congress continues to mobilize and rely on national associations of local and regional authorities as a platform for dialogue. It does so by encouraging cities and regions to combat these discriminations and by addressing national governments so that plans to fight such discrimination consider the local dimension. "It is essential to continue to put the spotlight on problematic areas, while recognizing and welcoming progress in the protection of LGBTI people," he concluded, calling for building links between allies for better cooperation.
The first volume of the Congress' human rights handbook has an entire chapter dedicated to the rights of LGBTI people. It presents concrete good practices from cities and regions across Europe, for example in the fight against hate crimes, access to social rights and awareness raising.
Andrew Boff: "Hate against LGBTI people fractures social cohesion"
Poland: New Council of Europe report criticizes increasing attacks and discrimination against LGBTI people