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Human rights: no exception for LGBT people

Strasbourg, 16.05.2012 – On the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Håkon Haugli (Norway, SOC), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBTs), has made the following statement:

“Human rights are for all: there is no exception for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In recent years, remarkable progress has been made in Europe in the fight against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity: to mention a few examples, in the United Kingdom, protective legislative frameworks and policies have been introduced; in Albania, homophobic discourse by politicians has been resolutely condemned by their peers; and in Sweden, sentences have been handed down to punish the authors of hate speech and violent crimes against LGBTs.

Many countries have introduced legislation that recognises and protects LGBT families, and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not considered a crime in any Council of Europe member state.

But while progress is being made in some countries, in others the foundations for a setback are being laid down: a number of local and regional authorities in Moldova and the Russian Federation have introduced legislation to prohibit ‘homosexual propaganda’ and the introduction of similar measures at national level is being examined by parliaments in Ukraine, Lithuania and the Russian Federation. On the basis of the new regional legislation in St Petersburg, 17 LGBT rights activists have already been arrested and one has been fined.

These worrying developments highlight a divide between Council of Europe member states in the interpretation of non-discrimination and human rights standards, and are bound to lead to a climate of stigmatisation and hostility against LGBTs.

As General rapporteur, I will do my utmost to ensure that, in all Council of Europe member states, fundamental rights and freedoms are respected and protected for all. I will make a particular effort to raise awareness of this amongst legislators.”