Press release - DC059(2012)

Europe must not move backwards on LGBT rights

Strasbourg, 15.05.2012 - Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has warned that discrimination and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continues to blight the lives of millions of Europeans and cannot be left unanswered. In a statement issued today he said:

“LGBT people still face intolerant attitudes and social barriers across most, if not all, Council of Europe member states. Recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights point at unjustified bans or administrative obstacles imposed on gay pride parades. They underline problems related to discrimination in granting social rights such as the right to employment. A number of applications pending before the Court concern the incrimination of “propaganda of homosexuality” and could lead to violations of freedom of expression. The introduction of such legislation has often started at the local or regional level but in recent months is finding an echo at national level in some countries.

The September 2011 report of the Commissioner for Human Rights on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the 47 Council of Europe member states highlights a range of additional issues, such as access to health care and education, gender recognition, and recognition of family life. Homophobic statements by politicians are also pinpointed.

Many member states have taken important steps forward in recent years to secure equality before the law for LGBT people, for example in outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and in recognising same-sex civil partnerships. At European level we have made significant progress with the adoption two years ago of the Committee of Ministers’ recommendation on the issue, and with the conference organised this March as part of the UK Chairmanship.

In the Council of Europe we are responding through our institutions and through the establishment of an LGBT Unit within the Secretariat. The Council of Europe is now working with six countries – Albania, Montenegro, Italy, Serbia, Latvia and Poland - to put in place projects on this topic, and I encourage other countries to join this initiative.

First and foremost, national authorities have a responsibility to ensure that their countries meet international commitments, including responding to negative steps taken at local or regional level. Political leaders also bear the responsibility to speak out immediately and strongly against any demonstrations or statements of intolerance or homophobia, especially those made by other politicians.”

Council of Europe Directorate of Communications
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11

pressunit@coe.int

www.coe.int



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