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47 European countries unanimously agree on historic human rights recommendations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Published on 7 April 2010

Press release - 277(2010)

Council of Europe to advance human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

This recommandation, contrarily to the previous ones, is not exclusively limitated to transsexual persons, but now will also be applied to transgender people.

Strasbourg, 01.04.2010 - The Secretary General of the Council of Europe welcomes the decision of the Committee of Ministers on Wednesday 31 March to adopt a recommendation to member states on measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is an important achievement, being the first legal instrument in the world dealing specifically with one of the most long-lasting and difficult forms of discrimination to combat.

The recommendation, which draws on existing standards in international legal instruments, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights, will advance the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

"The recommendation is an expression of the Council of Europe’s commitment to the equality for all and respect for the dignity of all. I invite all member states to make all the necessary efforts to implement this recommendation", Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland declared".

The Recommendations establish how international human rights standards should be applied to LGBT people and contain specific measures for Member States on how they should improve their legislation, policies and practices to address discrimination against LGBT people in such areas as

 hate crime and hate speech;
 freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly;
 right to respect for private and family life;
 right to seek asylum.

Additionally, the Recommendations prescribe that Member States should ensure that national human rights structures are clearly mandated to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. They also encourage Member States to address multiple discrimination experienced by LGBT people.

ILGA-Europe’s only regret is that the Member States did not go as far as we hoped for in some areas, particularly family rights.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

"This is a truly historical development! For the first time in history the European continent came together to codify human rights’ applications to LGBT people. As we celebrate this landmark in European human rights history, we also hope that these Recommendations will help to advance the human rights for LGBT people beyond Europe. "

Linda Freimane, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, added:

"These Recommendations go well beyond the current situation in many European countries for LGBT people and will surely serve as a blueprint for our members in working with their national governments. We will also follow closely the three year review mechanism agreed by the Committee of Ministers to ensure the full implementation. Finally, we encourage the Council of Europe to organise a campaign among its Member States to promote these Recommendations."

  1. Full text of the Recommendation
  2. ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & intersex people in Europe: http://www.ilga-europe.org/
  3. The Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe’s decision-making body. It comprises the Foreign Affairs Ministers of all the Member States, or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg.
  4. Committee of Ministers’ recommendations are international ’soft law’ agreements.

View online : Council of Europe Directorate of Communication