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Council of Europe releases new report on LGBT rights

June 24th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Equality, Irish Politics, LGBT

Yesterday the Council Of Europe released comprehensive research on LGBT rights in Europe. There are 47 states in membership of the Council of Europe and they all are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights, (but not all of them uphold it.)

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner on Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg is outspoken on LGBT issues and particularly has been vocal on the rights of transgendered people. (The unit’s work on LGBT issues is accessible here.)

Hammarberg has visited Ireland and expressed concern at the eroding of the equality infrastructure here.   Most recently he criticised Ireland’s lack of legislation on abortion.   Hammarberg’s weekly human rights comments are a must read, last weeks looking at the impact of austerity budgets.

Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe is based on two years of work combining visits and data gathering conducted by staff in the Council of Europe’s Office on Human Rights together with other research including data from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency

The report not only reflects on the legal situation in each country but also on the response of society to LGBT people and opinions and debates on LGBT issues within member states.  The impact of homophobic discourse and hate crime and the failure of member states to respond to the impact of these is of note as well as issues concerning freedom of assembly and Pride Marches.

Ireland is criticised regarding the failure to provide information on Homosexuality in schools. (However there are recent developments which saw the Minister for Education launch a guide for secondary school principals and an initiative on tackling homophobia in primary schools with Educate Together. )  Further criticisms are made regarding the lack of legislation supporting gender recognition.  Ireland’s legislation support for equality in the provision of services and employment is noted as is the  work on LGBT health issues being located within mainstream health policy.

The report makes recommendations in terms of legislative reforms and also other changes that are required within member states.  The work will inform the human rights visits and audits which are conducted of member states and governments and human rights agencies can expect the COE to continue to raise the matters.



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