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Making the voice of lesbian, bisexual and queer women heard and combating discrimination in Europe

Making the voice of lesbian, bisexual and queer women heard and combating discrimination in Europe

"LBQ women face violence and discrimination in their daily lives. Prejudice and stigmatisation can affect their access to employment, housing, healthcare, sexual and reproductive rights and health, as well as their private and family life", stressed Béatrice Fresko-Rolfo (Monaco, ALDE), rapporteur on preventing and combating violence and discrimination against LBQ women in Europe, at a hearing organised in Paris by the Equality Committee.

"The rights, needs and interests of LBQ women are rarely adequately taken into account in the process of developing standards and policies, which fail to respond to the specific difficulties they face. My report aims to make their voices heard, to contribute to the visibility of their struggle and to work to ensure that the difficulties they face are addressed effectively".

Yasemin Öz, a lawyer and co-founder of Kaos gl (Türkiye), stressed that the discrimination affecting LBQ women was common to all European countries, but she highlighted the situation in Türkiye. In particular, she deplored the discriminatory rhetoric used by extremist political parties, and the difficulties encountered by LBQ sportswomen in coming out of the closet. "There are also conversion policies pursued by the medical world, police harassment for allegedly disrupting society, and extremely widespread harassment in the educational world, as well as in companies. Türkiye's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention was blatantly promoted in my country as an action in defence of society against the LGBTQI community. And I can tell you that we LBQ women are the worst off in the LGBTQ world", she lamented. 

Marame Kane, a lesbian activist from France, spoke of the various problems faced by non-white LBQ women. When it comes to the justice system, for example, "we see a black figure, which refers to all undeclared racist acts". She pointed out that "if there is an offence or crime of a racist, sexist or lesbophobic nature, the courts will decide to use the criterion that is easiest to prove, so as not to jeopardise the offence. The massive under-reporting of racism contributes to maintaining impunity for these acts, harming the victims and strengthening the perpetrators. You can only defend what you know. We only know what we can measure".

Maud Royer, President of the French association 'Toutes des femmes', shed light on the effects of lesbophobia on trans lesbians. "Even in countries where the law creates new rights for trans or lesbian people, trans lesbian women are often among the forgotten. In France, the law opening up assisted reproduction to couples of women considers that the use of donor gametes is always necessary, whereas there are couples of trans and cis women where all the gametes are available", she said. "The first difficulty is therefore this: to make it known that trans lesbians exist, that although we are statistically few in number, our lives are very real and must be taken into account in the law. This sometimes means deconstructing legal and administrative systems that have been designed for decades to deal with impermeable and immutable categories of gender, when in fact they are not", she concluded. 

Ilaria Todde, Director of Advocacy and Research, Eurocentralasian Lesbian Community, Belgium, pointed out that being a woman and a member of the LGBTI community also means that the reasons for being a victim of hate speech and discrimination multiply, especially if the person is highly visible or holds a position of power. "It's not just LBQ women who are targeted, it's all women who are perceived as non-heterosexual. During her election campaign, Maia Sandu, the Moldovan President, who is not married and has no children, but is heterosexual, had to hold a press conference to counter a disinformation campaign accusing her of being a lesbian. Elly Schlein, the leader of Italy's main opposition party, is often attacked on the grounds that she is a bisexual woman in a relationship with another woman.

"We urge you to continue this work, the consultation with the LBQ movement, and to approve the resolution. This will ensure that international human rights standards, for the first time in history, place LBQ women at the forefront, confirming PACE's role as a pioneer and champion of LGBTI and women's rights," she concluded.