Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Major initiatives by Council of Europe to combat discrimination against LGBT people in member states

In a historic development, the Council of Europe announced a set of measures to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in member states. Armenia became the member state of the Council of Europe on 25 January 2001.

*via ILGA-Europe media release

In a very important development for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities across Europe, representatives of the 47 Council of Europe member states have committed to stepping up the organisation's work to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Action is to be taken at three levels:

* The Committee of Ministers (which consists of member state Foreign Ministers) is to issue a declaration on combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the need to ensure respect for the human rights of LGBT people
* An intergovernmental expert committee is to examine measures to avoid discrimination against LGBT partners
* All committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation are to take account in their work of the need for member states to avoid discrimination against LGBT people and to make proposals for specific activities designed to strengthen their rights.

In deciding on these actions, the Council of Europe has strongly reaffirmed its commitment to the equal rights and dignity of LGBT people.

ILGA-Europe Executive Director, Patricia Prendiville commented: "This is a historic development. For the first time since the foundation of the Council of Europe nearly 60 years ago, its executive committee, the Foreign Ministers of the 47 member states, is to issue a formal declaration in support of LGBT rights, and to engage the whole organisation in combating discrimination against LGBT people."

ILGA-Europe's Council of Europe adviser, Nigel Warner added: "Much of the credit for this great step forward goes to LGBT human rights defenders in Central and Eastern Europe. Their courageous work in advocating for LGBT rights has revealed the appalling extent of homophobia and transphobia in many countries, and shocked the Council of Europe into taking action".

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