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Concern at repeated infringements of freedom of expression and assembly

Strasbourg, 24.05.2013 - Håkon Haugli, General rapporteur on the rights of LGBT people of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), today made the following statement:

“Freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly are pillars of democratic life in any country: Council of Europe member states must ensure that everyone, including LGBT people, can enjoy them without discrimination. The latest developments relating to the events organised on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia as well as the Gay prides show that these rights are too often infringed in Europe.

I wish to congratulate the authorities of Albania and Moldova, which allowed and supported events such as the “Diversity Fair” of Tirana or the “Rainbow on Dniestr” in Chisinau. However, the situation was different in Georgia, where a march against homophobia was violently disrupted by a large group of opponents in Tbilisi on 17 May. In Ukraine, members of Parliament urged the mayor of Kyiv to ban the Gay pride parade scheduled for 25 May and the city’s authorities decided to apply for a judicial ban of all public demonstrations on that weekend. In Lithuania, new legislation against “public events contravening public morality” threatens to prevent Gay pride marches and similar events.

Freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly are at the core of the human rights principles that the Council of Europe supports. All member states should honour their obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights and guarantee that these freedoms are enjoyed by everyone. Protecting so-called traditional values is not a valid reason to prevent them.

I call on the authorities of all Council of Europe member states to guarantee that LGBT events can regularly take place. They should cooperate with the organising committees and ensure the safety of all participants. I strongly encourage legislators and other political representatives to take part in these events, as an opportunity to promote equality and non-discrimination for all.”