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Crown Princess of Denmark: we cannot take our human rights for granted

The protection of human rights cannot be taken for granted, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark told the Assembly today, stressing the need for the principles and values underlying them to be passed on to new generations.

“Although human rights are inherent to us all, they are also fragile… we must never take them for granted, nor expect that they will always be granted,” she warned parliamentarians in Strasbourg.

“They are the basic freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth to death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe, or how you choose to live your life.”

The Crown Princess, who was speaking in the context of Denmark’s six-month chairmanship of the Council of Europe, said the Council's achievements “set high standards for the rest of the world to follow”, but acknowledged that enormous challenges still remained in securing rights around the globe.

She singled out for praise the Council’s work on equal treatment and equal opportunities, describing the Istanbul Convention as the “gold standard” in protecting women against domestic violence, and pointing out that the Council’s work to combat sexism had preceded the recent #MeToo movement. “Striving for equality is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do”.

Turning to sexual rights, she said they were some of the most controversial, yet some of the most intimate and fundamental of human rights. “They enable one to make informed decisions about the most basic aspects of one’s life: one’s body, sexuality, health and relationships.”

“Even as we enter 2018, too many lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersex people continue to be victims of hatred, violence, discrimination, bullying and ill-treatment, and this we cannot, and must not, accept.”