The principle of equality and non-discrimination is a fundamental element in the protection of human rights. It is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (article 14) and was reinforced by Protocol No.12 to the Convention, which in a general manner, provides that no-one shall be discriminated against on any ground by any public authority.
Homophobic acts which have occurred in several states unhappily point to systematic violation of the fundamental rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs). These occurrences have also shown that in many cases such injustice is condoned and sometimes even actively supported by the very authorities whose strict duty it is to protect their citizens against all discrimination.
The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities have issued several recommendations and resolutions calling upon governments and local authorities to take the requisite measures to combat incitement to homophobia.
On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Secretary General Jagland called on Member States to fight discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Hate crime motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity is a violation of basic human rights. Europeans must safeguard the right to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly. Some member states still lack laws to explicitly or implicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. I encourage them to work with the Council of Europe to make progress so that Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender persons can fully enjoy their human rights,” Secretary General Jagland said. (more...)
Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT)
The Commissioner regularly raises the LGBT topic with authorities in member states, and expresses his concerns in country monitoring reports and specific thematic publications, such as the Issue Paper on Human Rights and Gender Identity.
Statistics from the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner in 2011 showed that what looks like progress on the surface often masks the fact that homosexuality is still hated by over 80% of people in some European countries, and that nine of the Council of Europe member states have no anti-discrimination legislation pertaining to gay rights at all. Whilst same sex marriages are allowed in seven countries, and 13 others accept some form of civil partnership, others not only prevent same sex marriage but do not allow gay people planning to marry or conduct a civil partnership abroad access to the necessary paperwork.
Council of Europe to advance human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons
The Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland welcomed the decision of the Committee of Ministers on 31 March 2010 to adopt a recommendation to member states on measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. ''The recommendation is an expression of the Council of Europe's commitment to the equality for all and respect for the dignity of all,'' he declared. (more ...)
The Parliamentary Assembly on 29 April 2010 also called on European States to guarantee ''legal recognition of same-sex partnerships only when national legislation envisages such recognition'' and provide for the possibility of ''joint parental responsibility'' for each partner's children ''bearing in mind the interests of children.'' (more...)
On 17 October 2012, the Current Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities decided to prepare a report on LGBT persons' rights. Ms Yoomi Renström (Sweden) will be the rapporteur. This document will deal with the role of local and regional authorities in insuring respect of LGBT people's rights.
Additionally, in order to help member states in their efforts to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, the project "Combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBT Project)" was launched in September 2011.
Whilst for many LGBT people in Europe life has become easier and society more tolerant, they face still many other obstacles. The European Court of Human Rights has been asked to judge cases involving the banning of gay pride parades and discrimination in granting social rights, with a number of applications pending on the laws which criminalise “homosexual propaganda”.