Combating sexual orientation discrimination
December 23, 2004
European Group of Experts reviews legislative measures taken by the Member States
of the European Union to combat sexual orientation discrimination
February 22, 2009 – dailyqueernews.com
Council of Europe Propogates Anti-Family Yogyakarta Principles (Jail the Preachers Alert)
by Piero Tozzi & Katharina Rothweiler | LifeSiteNews.com | Free Republic
New York, NY, February 20, 2009 (C-FAM) – A special committee of the Council of Europe (CoE) is meeting this week in Strasbourg, France, to promote the implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity among the CoE’s 47 member states.
One controversial item on the agenda for the Committee of Experts on Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity calls for a “hate speech” ban, focusing “special attention” on “politicians, opinion leaders, religious dignitaries and the media.” This is interpreted by some as an attempt to chill criticism of homosexual behavior and the “gay lifestyle.”
Critics note that Sweden has prosecuted Pastor Åke Green, a Pentecostal minister, for a sermon he gave on the sinfulness of homosexual conduct. In overturning his criminal conviction, the Swedish Supreme Court noted that his conduct was illegal under Swedish law, but in this case European Convention on Human Rights free speech protections overrode Swedish law.
February 26, 2009 – PinkNews
Euro Parliament accepts petition on Poland’s discrimination against gays
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The European Parliament Committee on Petitions has accepted a petition submitted by a Polish LGBT rights group on the discriminatory practices of registry offices. The Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) said the Polish Registry Office has been known to refuse to issue certificates of marital status for gays and lesbians who would like to enter into a same-sex union abroad. Certificates are required to enter into a union in most EU countries.
The EP Committee decided that the issues tackled in the petition fall under the jurisprudence of the European Union. According to a letter from the Committee, an official procedure has begun to investigate the complaint which includes a request of the European Commission to explain what has been done regarding the issues raised in the petition. The Committee also said that the issue should be dealt with by the EP’s Intergroup for LGBT Rights.
KPH made the European Parliament aware of the problems Polish citizens have been facing when attempting to enter into a same-sex union with a citizen of another EU country. According to KPH the Registry violates the basic human right to form a family which is afforded to Polish gays and lesbians and conflicts with the EU principle of freedom of movement.
March 17, 2009 – PinkNews
European Parliament approves extension of LGBT discrimination protection
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A report recommending the extension of protection against LGBT discrimination has been approved by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee. Currently, provisions only apply to discrimination on sexual orientation, age, disability or religion in the workplace. The extension on legal protection will apply to areas such as healthcare and commercial services.
London Green MEP, Jean Lambert, who is a member of the committee and voted in favour of the report, commented: "The adoption of this report marks welcome progress on equal rights, particularly on access to goods and services. "However, certain issues concerning family law are not included and we may face difficult negotiations to secure support across parties, given the positions of largest political groups in the European Parliament."
Lambert cited the scenario of a lesbian black woman who would be legally protected from discrimination if it was on the ground of her race or gender, but not on the basis of her sexual orientation. She added: "The new directive aims to remedy this situation and fill the gaps left open by the existing legislation. I hope it will be fully supported by the European Parliament as a whole when it comes for vote in plenary."
The European Parliament plenary session vote is due on April 2nd.
March 31, 2009 – The Miami Herald
Gays, lesbians face wide harassment in Europe
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals face widespread harassment, bullying and discrimination across Europe, according to an EU report released Tuesday. That harassment and discrimination occurs "in all areas of social life," from schools to the workplace to health care centers, the report by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency said. Agency Director Morten Kjaerum said the investigation found gays and lesbians continue to face assault and other physical attacks due to their sexual orientation despite EU rules meant to guarantee equality in the 27-nation bloc.
"These are alarming signals in an EU that prides itself on its principles of equal treatment and nondiscrimination," he told reporters at the European Parliament. The report said gay pride events were being obstructed in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania. Meanwhile, politicians and religious leaders in Italy, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have also rejected calls to improve the rights of gays and lesbians. Kjaerum said, according to the scarce data available from national authorities, "very few incidents" of assault, hate speech by public figures or verbal attacks are reported to police.
Current laws meant to protect against discrimination also do not cover areas such as housing, education or health care, he noted. The report, which compiled studies and surveys from across Europe, said homophobic abuse is usually carried out by young men in groups, but is also persistent at work, in school or when trying to get medical care. Kjaerum appealed to EU nations to improve equality legislation, to better record hate crimes "and to train police accordingly." The agency also recommended better awareness campaigns to promote diversity and fight discrimination.
April 23, 2009 – PinkNews
Gays urged to vote in European Parliament elections
by Henrietta Ronson
The European Parliament elections are taking place between 4th and 7th June and gay rights group ILGA-Europe has recently launched a campaign encouraging people to take part. Their motto is "Be bothered. Vote for a human rights friendly European Parliament."
ILGA-Europe has two objectives for the campaign.
Primarily, they want to ensure thatthe next European Parliament will maintain a commitment to human rights and equality in general but especially the rights of LGBT individuals. In this, a 10 points Pledge has been written and members are being asked to sign it.
Secondly, ILGA-Europe want to re-instill some determination into their members so they will literally "be bothered" to take part in this year’s elections. The 2004 elections witnessed the lowest turnout in the history of the European elections and ILGA-Europe’s message is simple: if you are not bothered – some one else will be.
Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said: "There is definitely a fatigue among EU citizens when it comes to the European elections. Many people think the European Parliament is a distant and irrelevant institution. This is not true, as the European Parliament is the only EU institution on which we have direct influence! We cannot afford not to ‘be bothered’ and not to vote. Our vote is our voice and we don’t want to be silenced."
Click here for more information about the ILGA campaign.
18 May 2009 – Amnesty International
Mixed weekend for LGBT marches
The first ever Baltic Pride march in Riga, Latvia passed off successfully and peacefully on Saturday – but there was violence at similar events in Russia and Poland. A colourful collection of LGBT rights activists, joined by Amnesty International members from across Europe, carried rainbow flags and banners at the inaugural Baltic Pride event in Riga. The march had initially been banned after opposition from local councillors but Riga’s Municipal Court overturned the ban the day before the event. The march attracted a group of noisy counter-demonstrators but the event remained peaceful.
"We’re proud to be marching with you here today. It’s a march and a celebration," Amnesty International’s John Dalhuisen told the crowd. "This march must go on beyond this one day. Amnesty International will be marching with you towards the full enjoyment of your rights. Now let’s celebrate!"
The mood was very different in Moscow as police violently dispersed demonstrators at the Slavic Pride march, which had been banned by the authorities. Media reports suggest that between 25 and 80 activists were arrested as they protested against discrimination of LGBT people. Riot police charged the group and several people were detained.
“The police brutality that we witnessed is shocking," said organiser Nikolai Alekseev. "We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world’s media watching."
There were also tumultuous scenes in Krakow, Poland as counter-demonstrators protesting against an LGBT rights march in the city clashed with police. One person was reported to have been injured and 20 were arrested in the clashes, which did not affect a peaceful LGBT march in the city centre. Municipal authorities in Mykolayiv City, Ukraine, banned LGBT groups from holding public events as part of a "Rainbow spring 2009" festival for the second year running. The organizers had planned to mark International Day Against Homophobia on Sunday.
June 11, 2009 – Human Rights Watch
LGBT Rights Movement: Progress and Visibility Breed Backlash
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Rights Defenders Need Resources, Broader Support
(New York) – Activists working for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in many countries are still under-resourced, unnecessarily isolated, and vulnerable to violent backlash even after four decades of struggle, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 44-page report, "Together, Apart: Organizing around Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Worldwide," demonstrates that many groups defending LGBT rights – especially throughout the global South – still have limited access to funding, and courageously face sometimes-murderous attacks without adequate support from a broader human rights community.
"Dozens of countries have repealed sodomy laws or enshrined equality measures, and that’s the good news as activists celebrate their successes during Gay Pride month," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch and the principal author of the report. "But visibility breeds violence, and there is a pressing need for new support and protection."
The report is based on written surveys and in-depth interviews with more than 100 activists working for LGBT rights in five regions: sub-Saharan Africa; the Middle East and North Africa; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; the Asia and Pacific region; and Latin America and the Caribbean. In each region, the report outlines prevailing patterns of abuse and rights violations; the political and social challenges, and opportunities that activists see ahead; and key strategies these movements are using to achieve social change.
The report shows widely disparate rights situations in different regions. In Latin America, for instance, decades of coalition work between LGBT activists and other social movements – including women’s and mainstream human rights groups – have led to sweeping legal changes, with most sodomy laws in the region repealed and new anti-discrimination protections being debated. Yet repressive laws and pervasive violence based on gender identity and expression often remain unremedied. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the report found, waves of backlash regularly greet the efforts of LGBT activists to make their voices heard, often silencing them with brutal violence. Extremist religious groups – some with support from kindred denominations in North America – actively promote prejudice and hatred.
Key findings of the report include:
* Organizations working on sexual orientation and gender identity still lack resources, as well as adequate support from other human rights movements. Increasing funding for these rights defenders, and building their political alliances, is crucial.
* Defenders of LGBT people’s rights, and of sexual rights in general, routinely face extraordinary levels of violence. In Jamaica, an angry crowd surrounded a church where a gay man’s funeral was being held and beat the mourners. In Kenya, one group told Human Rights Watch matter-of-factly that its members were "attacked by an angry mob who wanted to lynch them and they had to be evacuated under tight security."
* Sexuality has become a dangerous cultural and religious battleground. Increasingly, both politicians and conservative religious leaders manipulate issues of gender and sexuality to win influence or preserve power. They characterize LGBT people as alien to their communities, outsiders whose rights and lives do not matter.
* The need to change laws is still a central issue – but in many different contexts. More than 80 countries still have "sodomy laws" that criminalize consensual, adult same-sex sexual relations. Yet even in countries that have scrapped these provisions, laws on "public scandals," "indecency," "wearing the clothing of the opposite sex," and sex work are still in place, allowing widespread police harassment of transgender people and others. Enshrining equality for lesbian and gay people in South Africa’s constitution produced an example of global importance, for instance. Yet South Africa’s government is still not fully committed to equality at all levels, or capable of curtailing sexual violence.
The report also details creative strategies that activists have used to combat prejudice and promote equality. In India, activists have combined a legal challenge to the sodomy law with a wide-ranging public campaign to change public attitudes. In Brazil, transgender groups have fostered visibility and countered discrimination through simple monthly excursions to public spaces such as shopping malls or beaches. Activists told Human Rights Watch this helps trans people "feel strong in a group and face those spaces they believe are ‘off limits’ for them. And it is also meant to educate the public to see transgender people as citizens …with whom they can share a movie or a game and the beach."
This year is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, the historic and galvanizing clashes between LGBT people and the police that many see as marking the beginning of the modern US gay rights movement. Yet the US still has fewer protections for LGBT people’s equality than countries such as Brazil or South Africa.
"As the United States prepares to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its own gay rights movement, this report points to lessons of struggles and successes in other countries that everyone can learn from," said Long. The research and publication of "Together, Apart" were supported by the generosity of the Arcus Foundation, a US-based philanthropic foundation whose mission embraces achieving social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity, and race.
July 23, 2009 – PinkNews
Map shows legal status of gays across Europe
by Ramsey Dehani
A map has been released to show the legal status of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Europe, revealing some disturbing trends within the eastern European bloc. It has been drawn up by the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe).
The map shows a clear split between east and west, with eight eastern European countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Poland banning gay Pride marches in the last ten years. One territory, Northern Cyprus, still criminalises consenting sexual acts between adult men. Greece and Cyprus still have unequal ages of consent, along with the British territories of Guernsey and Gibraltar, despite the UK bringing the age down to 16 in 2000.
This inequality of consent still exists despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 1997 (in the case of ‘Sutherland vs the United Kingdom’) which ruled that a higher age of consent for gays than for heterosexuals was a breach of Articles 8 and 14 of the convention. There are, however, some discrepancies on the chart. Kosovo codified anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of ‘sexual orientation’ in Article 24 of its constitution, which came into effect in June 2008. Jersey has also equalised its age of consent to 16, bringing the age for sodomy down in 2007. Jersey was the last of the United Kingdom territories to decriminalise same-sex relations, with "sodomie" being illegal for both men and women until 1990.
Out of a total of 50 countries and territories included, it was found that 25 countries and five territories ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment and access to good and services, with Sweden, Kosovo and Portugal being the only three countries to refer to sexual orientation in their constitutional anti-discrimination provisions. Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands were found to come top for LGB rights.
It was also found that 13 countries and two territories allow same-sex partnerships, with a further two recognising cohabitation rights without any rights to partnership. Spain, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are the only countries that allow same sex couples to fully marry. Nine countries entitle same-sex partners to apply for joint adoption.
The map contains an interesting panoramic view of the gay rights situation and Europe, and the countries that have produced both good and bad track records in LGB rights.
September 30, 2009 – PinkNews
Gay MEP Michael Cashman criticises UN General Assembly president’s ‘unacceptable’ anti-gay views
by Jessica Geen
Gay MEP Michael Cashman has condemned homophobic comments made by the new United Nations General Assembly president. As PinkNews.co.uk reported last week, Ali Abdussalam Treki said that homosexuality is "not really acceptable". Treki, who is the Libyan secretary of African Union Affairs, opened the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly last Friday with a press conference.
One question concerned the UN resolution which calls for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. In reply, Treki said: "That matter is very sensitive, very touchy. As a Muslim, I am not in favour of it . . . it is not accepted by the majority of countries. My opinion is not in favour of this matter at all. I think it’s not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition. “It is not acceptable in the majority of the world. And there are some countries that allow that, thinking it is a kind of democracy . . . I think it is not,” he added.
In a statement released today, Cashman attacked the "inappropriate and unacceptable" comments. He said: "Such statements are totally inappropriate and unacceptable. He must now speak on behalf of those who do not have a voice and forget his religious beliefs which must remain private. He must realise that the implications of his words could legitimise violence towards LGBT people."
Cashman, who is the president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights, called on Treki to "think again" and added: "He is there to defend the principles of the United Nations and that includes the Universal Declaration Human Rights Act 1948 and all following amendments and covenants of rights, including LGBT human rights." The resolution on homosexuality which Treki referred to was signed by 66 countries and passed last December.
October 2009 – msmandhiv.org
At the threshold of the Third Conference on HIV / AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
We Do Exist!
And there are going to be more of us…
We, HIV-positive people, request all specialists to help us convince governments of our countries that programs on prophylaxis of HIV and providing support to men who have sex with men (MSM) are very important.
A lack of attention from local governments to issues related to HIV/AIDS prophylaxis in MSM and social support to this group are commonly seen in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). This position is often based on (or finds excuse in) miserable numbers of officially registered HIV+ cases in MSM. But at the same time recent surveys in EECA countries are showing much higher prevalences of HIV-infection among MSM then registered officially. There are a number of reasons why authorities are failing to act in this direction; the most probable being that topics related to homosexuality are taboo to governmental authorities. Though there is not a single reason for silencing questions related to MSM, this often leads to refusal to support projects and initiatives focused on this particular subgroup.
The amount of prophylactic and educational activities directed on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities done by State-run organization is insufficient. There are not enough efforts in this direction from non-governmental organizations as well. Thus, we consider the role of specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations as very important in changing the attitudes of our governments towards the problem of HIV prevention among, and social support to, MSM. That is why we are asking you to help us assert influence over decision makers in our countries.
Read Entire Article
December 5th, 2009 – Gay Today
Euro Parliament calls for gay freedom of movement
by Rex Wockner
The European Parliament on Nov. 25 adopted a resolution calling on European Union member nations “to ensure freedom of movement for EU citizens and their families, including both registered partnerships and marriages” and “to avoid all kinds of discrimination on any ground, including sexual orientation.” MEPs also called for EU-level anti-hate-crime legislation, citing “growing intolerance within the EU.”
The co-presidents of the Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, Michael Cashman and Ulrike Lunacek, called the resolution “a step toward equality.”
“The European Parliament has just sent a clear message that member states need to ensure the freedom of movement of all families and recognize unions between all EU citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation,” they said. “The text goes in the direction of an EU-wide recognition of all unions contracted in member states … but we will need to keep up the pressure on EU institutions and member states in the coming years to fully recognize same-sex unions — only then will we have genuine equality.”
December 17, 2009 – AIDSmap News
HIV prevalence and risk behaviour varies between gay men in Southern and Eastern Europe
by Michael Carter
HIV prevalence is higher amongst gay men in Southern Europe than amongst gay men in Eastern Europe, according to an international study published in the December 3rd edition of Eurosurveillance. Almost 17% of gay men in Barcelona were HIV-positive, according to the results of the study, compared to a prevalence of 3% in Prague. However, the investigators also found high levels of risky sexual behaviour amongst gay men in Eastern Europe and low frequency of HIV testing. “The potential for further HIV transmission in Eastern European cities is evident”, they comment.
There has been a marked increase in annual HIV diagnoses amongst gay men across Europe since 2000. Although some of these diagnoses can be attributed to increased levels of HIV testing, others are due to recent onward transmission of the virus. Indeed, other research has shown that significant numbers of gay men engage in sexual behaviour that could involve a risk of contracting HIV. To better understand the epidemiology of HIV amongst gay and other men who have sex with men, a team of investigators designed a study that involved 2241 individuals in six cities (Barcelona, Spain; Bratislava, Slovakia; Bucharest, Romania; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Prague, Czech Republic; and Verona, Italy). The study was conducted between 2008-09.
The study participants were recruited from the gay scene and all reported sex with another men in the previous twelve months. HIV prevalence was monitored using oral HIV tests. The men also completed questionnaires about their sexual risk behaviour, drug use, and HIV testing history. HIV prevalence was much higher in Southern Europe than in Eastern Europe. The prevalence of the infection amongst gay men in Barcelona was 17% and it was 12% in Verona. Bratislava had the highest HIV prevalence in Eastern Europe (6%), followed by Ljubljana and Bucharest (both 5%) and Prague (3%).
Levels of HIV testing were highest in Barcelona (56%), followed by Verona (53%), Bucharest (43%), Prague (42%), Ljubljana (38%) and Bratislava (32%). Reported HIV risk behaviour varied between the cities. The use of condoms with a casual partner was reported by 67% of men in Barcelona and by 36% of individuals in Prague. Condom use for anal sex was lower with regular partners, and was reported by 43% of men in Barcelona and Bucharest and by 20% of men in Bratislava.
Men in Barcelona and Verona had the highest number of reported casual partners (mean 16 and twelve respectively), with lower numbers reported by men in Eastern Europe (mean six – eight). Alcohol was the most widely used drug in all cities, but other patterns of recreational drug use varied.
January 18, 2010 – Time
Europe’s Gay Leaders: Out at The Top
by William Lee Adams
When Iceland installed Johanna Sigurdardottir as Prime Minister last February, newspapers around the globe printed variations of the same headline: Iceland Appoints World’s First Gay Leader. Everywhere, that is, except Iceland. The Icelandic media didn’t mention Sigurdardottir’s sexuality for days, and only then to point out that the foreign press had taken an interest in their new head of state — a 67-year-old former flight attendant turned politician whom voters had consistently rated Iceland’s most trustworthy politician. Sure, she was gay and had entered a civil partnership with another woman in 2002. But Icelanders hardly seemed to notice. "The media silence echoed the sentiment of the public. Nobody cared about her sexual orientation," says Margret Bjornsdottir, the director of the Institute for Public Administration and Politics at the University of Iceland. "Being gay is a nonissue here. It’s considered unremarkable."
Buoyed by liberal attitudes such as those, politicians across Western Europe are stepping out of the closet and into their country’s highest political offices. Eleven openly gay men and women now serve in the British Parliament, including two in the Cabinet. Last June, Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Frédéric Mitterrand, a gay television presenter, to the post of Minister of Culture. Paris’ Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, tipped by some to contest the 2012 presidential race, is gay. And Guido Westerwelle, chairman of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, has just become his country’s Foreign Minister, joining a gay élite that includes the mayors of Berlin and Hamburg, Germany’s two largest cities. Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s mayor, says coming out ahead of the 2001 mayoral race while under pressure from tabloids strengthened his campaign. "My confession might have contributed to my popularity," he says. "Many people appreciate honesty."
That’s a far cry from the climate in most of the U.S., where — despite the recent election of Annise Parker, a gay woman, as mayor of Houston, America’s fourth largest city — honesty can still end a gay politician’s career. Openly gay politicians such as San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk began winning seats in U.S. cities with large gay populations in the 1970s. Progress has since slowed, says David Rayside, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He believes that the relative strength of incumbency in the U.S. creates a barrier to the corridors of power, as does "the strength of religious conservatives." Of the 511,000 elected offices in the U.S. — from local school boards way up to President — openly gay men and women occupy just 450 of them, according to the U.S.-based Victory Fund, an organization that offers financial support to gay political candidates. No openly gay person has ever sat in the Senate, and only three hold seats in the House of Representatives.
The gap between the U.S. and Europe doesn’t just exist at the top: 49% of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center in 2007 believed that society should "accept" homosexuality. Contrast that with attitudes in Europe where more than 80% of French, Germans and Spaniards had such a view. Only Catholic and conservative Poles felt as uncomfortable with the idea as Americans. Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, says those attitudes can make it difficult for gay people to campaign — let alone obtain office. "In places where the climate isn’t friendly, it’s hard for them to even go into a town hall meeting or public forum because they get such nasty questions." (See a TIME video on gay pride in Jerusalem.)
Read Article HERE
22nd March 2010 – msmandhiv.org
European Commission signs trade deal with countries jailing and killing gays and lesbians
Brussels — Negotiations came to a close last Friday over the revised Cotonou Agreement, which delineates political and trade relations between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. Out of 79 ACP states, 49 criminalise homosexuality with up to 14 years in jail, and up to 5 punish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with death.
European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs previously intended to include non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the new terms (as demanded by the European Parliament), but finally agreed to conclude a deal with ACP states that does not mention the human rights of LGBT people, despite blatant increases in state-supported violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ACP region.
Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, reacted: “This is unacceptable for the European Parliament. The Commission backed down in the face of governments that increasingly discriminate, imprison, torture and kill people because of their sexual orientation. It is a dangerous signal that there is a hierarchy of rights: some will be defended, but others will not. This matter will not be left to rest here.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, concurred: “I would have expected Commissioner Piebalgs not to give in to pressure from ACP governments. His abdication is not only against European values, it also is harmful to LGBT people in ACP countries who are confronted with the notion of homosexuality being ‘un-African’—a notion proven wrong by historians and sociologists. The European Parliament will confront the Commission with this decision.”
The revised agreement has been tentatively agreed upon, with the official signature planned for June 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
April 2010 – o.b5z.net
The Queer Joys Of Sexless Marriage: Coupled Citizenship’s Hot Bed!
A “sexless marriage” seems a most joyless and banal union to many, old as matrimony itself. Yet the new sexless marriage championed in this paper does not concern cold-bedded companionships, but the legal union of two citizens whose sexed bodies remain unspecified, unsignified and unimportant … in legislation (their importance in bed is left to participating citizens to determine). This article considers the recent changes to marriage legislation in European countries through the frame of Queer Theory. It particularly reflects on the introduction of the sexless marriage in Norway and Sweden, in the context of other models. It applies Judith Butler’s notions of gender performativity to the policisation of partnerships, applying her concepts of Overplay, Transference and Erasure in the disruption of the heterosexual matrix within coupled citizenship. It considers the varying value of marriage models to Queer projects in “opening up” citizenship, offering new perspectives on “gay marriage” debates.
29 April 2010 – ILGA Europe
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly strongly condemns discrimination against LGBT people in Europe
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a Resolution on Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
This is the second time in a few weeks that a major Council of Europe institution has come out strongly in support of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people: on 31 March 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a historic Recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
ILGA-Europe welcomes the adoption of this Resolution which addresses all the major issues of discrimination against LGBT people and encourages the 47 member states of the Council of Europe to take steps to fight such discrimination. The adopted Resolution points to an extensive range of human rights violations affecting the lives of millions of people which still take place within the member states of the Council of Europe. Freedom of assembly and expression: the Resolution calls these rights pillars of democracy and calls upon member states to ensure these rights are respected in line with international human rights standards.
Hate speech: the Resolution identifies hate speech by certain politicians, religious and other civil society leaders as well as hate speech in the media and internet as being of particular concern. It condemns hate speech and discriminatory statements and calls for effective protection for LGBT people from such statements.
Hate crime: the resolution stresses that the eradicating of homophobia and transphobia requires political will in member states and calls for provision of legal remedies to victims and putting an end to impunity for those who violate fundamental rights of LGBT people to life and security.
Anti-discrimination: the Resolution calls upon member states to adopt and implement anti-discrimination legislation which includes sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited grounds for discrimination and provide sanctions for infringement and effective reporting mechanisms for cases of discrimination.
Transgender people: the Resolution particularly highlights the cycle of discrimination and human rights deprivation that transgender people experience. The Resolution calls for specific measures by member states to ensure that identity documents should be changed to reflect a person’s preferred gender identity without prior obligation to undergo sterilisation or other medical procedures such as gender reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
Young people: the Resolution stresses the particularly serious consequences of homophobia and transphobia for young LGBT people and underlines the importance of not criticising the perceived or declared sexual orientation of young people, particularly of those under the age of 18.
LGBT families: the Resolution points out that the denial of rights to de facto LGBT families in some member states must be addressed through legal recognition and protections of those families. Regretfully, the Resolution calls for the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships only when national legislation envisages such recognition.
Parenting: the Resolution calls for the possibility for joint parental responsibility of each partner’s children bearing in mind the best interests of children.
Asylum: the Resolution calls upon member states to recognise persecution of LGBT people as a ground for granting asylum.
Additionally, the parliamentarians urge the Council of Europe to allocate resources to work on LGBT issues, and to include violence against LBT women in the drafting of its proposed Violence against Women Convention.
Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe’ said: “This is a very significant development and in a space of one month we see two major Council of Europe institutions adopting comprehensive documents not just strongly condemning discrimination against LGBT people but mapping how the 47 member states should address such discrimination.
We believe this is a solid foundation and a valuable practical tool helping the Council of Europe’s member states develop their laws, policies and practices towards elimination of discrimination against LGBT people and ensuring their fundamental human rights. Moreover, we believe the Council of Europe has made it crystal clear that homophobia, transphobia, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are completely unacceptable in Europe and need to be tackled head on.”
17 May 2010 – EU Observer
Eastern Europe scores badly on gay rights
by Andrew Rettman
EUObserver / Brussels – While eastern European countries tend to be the least gay-friendly in the EU, the Polish leader of the European Parliament has thrown his weight behind international anti-homophobia day. A fresh survey by the International Lesbian and Gay Association has said that the predominantly Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian countries of eastern Europe have the worst track record on gay rights.
Ukraine and Russia scored the lowest on the ILGA index, closely followed by Belarus, Moldova and Turkey. In the EU, Cyprus, Latvia and Poland are the least progressive. Belarus police on Saturday (15 May) cemented the country’s reputation by violently breaking-up a small, 20-person-strong Slavic Pride march. At the other end, Sweden is the most liberal. Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland and the UK also scored highly. The Roman Catholic countries of Belgium, which came second overall, and Spain, which came fourth, were examples of tolerant christian societies. Belgium and Spain are among the handful of EU countries which allow gay marriage and adoption.
The ILGA study was published on Monday to coincide with international anti-homophobia day, which marks the UN’s decision, dating back to just 1990, to say that homosexuality is not a form of mental illness. European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, a Polish protestant, had originally hesitated on taking part in Monday’s events, prompting talk among some rights campaigners that he wanted to protect his political capital in Poland.
The president in the end recorded an anti-homophobia video message together with EU justice commissioner Vivianne Reding and is to make a declaration at the opening of the Strasbourg plenary session on Monday criticising anti-gay repression. "Homophobia is a blatant breach of human dignity that questions fundamental rights, and thus it must be strongly condemned. Let’s make sure that the future generations of Europeans grow accustomed to a culture of openness, non-discrimination and tolerance," he said in a press statement on Sunday.
The Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus is the only territory in the EU where homosexuality is against the law. The legislation is rarely enforced, however. Elsewhere in the world, gay people face the death penalty in Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, the Islamist parts of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Uganda is also considering bringing in capital punishment for homosexual acts.
June 23, 2010 – PinkNews
Biggest European online sex survey for gay and bisexual men is launched
by Christopher Brocklebank
The European Gay and Bisexual Men’s Internet Sex Survey (EMIS) which is available in 25 languages and 31 countries, has been launched online and is available to complete until Tuesday 31 August. It is the largest survey of this population yet undertaken, with a target of about 100,000 men, and aims to help gay and bisexual men across the continent improve their sex lives and avoid sexual health problems, including reducing new HIV infections.
The survey is being undertaken as part of the England-wide CHAPS programme funded by the Department of Health. The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) are part of the CHAPS programme and work in partnership Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), GMFA, Yorkshire MESMAC, Trade Men’s Sexual Health Project, the Eddystone Trust, Healthy Gay Living, The Metro Centre, NAM, Sigma Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The LGF’s Community Engagement Manager, Daniel Gomez, who oversees the charity’s sexual health programmes which reach out to gay and bisexual men across Greater Manchester and the north west, said, "It’s important that gay men in the north west participate in the survey to represent our unique perspective. The information in this survey will help us to shape community programmes that meet local men’s needs."
06 October 2010 – Eurobserver
Belgium keeping alive EU anti-discrimination bill
by Andrew Rettman
Brussels (Euobserver) – The Belgian EU presidency is keeping alive hopes that disabled, gay and old people will in the coming years have equal access to services in the Union’s single market. The bill – dubbed "the fourth anti-discrimination directive" – was originally put forward by the European Commission in 2008 but disappeared into the legal machinery of the EU Council and has stayed off the political agenda for the past two years.
Asked by EUobserver at a seminar by the German centre-right foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, in Brussels on Tuesday (5 October) if the law will ever see the light of day, EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said there is no real progress because of German-led opposition. "One has to speak to every member state that is blocking the directive. This is first and foremost Germany, but there are lots of other countries hiding behind Germany as well. I am speaking regularly to German ministers. They tell me ‘nyet’ and that that’s it," she said, speaking in German, but using the Russian word for ‘No.’
EU diplomatic sources say that the eight-or-so countries "hiding" behind Berlin include the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania and Malta. Each of the five named countries have conservative governments. But the objections are not related to Christian mores on sexual orientation so much as based on fears about extra costs of installing disabled access to buildings and on "legal uncertainty." A ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2005 that German labour law failed to protect the rights of 56-year-old lawyer Werner Mangold in line with a previous EU law on non-discrimination in the workplace has raised fears that the draft bill on services will spawn additional court rulings along the same lines.
Given the problems, the Belgian EU presidency has limited its ambition on the new directive to submitting a progress report on work done so far to EU social affairs ministers in Brussels on 6 December. The Belgian team is keeping discussion on the troubled project alive in the meantime. On 21 September, it chaired a meeting of delegates from EU interior ministries on the subject of discrimination in the financial services.
The debate was based on a study by the German firm Civic Consulting, which looked at current practice in banks and insurance firms, focusing on Belgium, Germany, Sweden and the UK. With the exception of one bank and one insurer that had created products designed to comply with Islamic sharia law, companies surveyed by Civic Consulting said "almost universally" that race, religion and sexual orientation "play no part at all in their business." The EU meeting agreed that there are problems relating to age and disability, however.
"Just because you have one arm, it does not mean that your fire insurance should automatically cost more. The company should have to prove that your underlying medical condition increases the risk and there should be more transparency for the consumer," a contact present at the meeting said. The European Commission is also investing a lot of resources in protecting its original vision of the services anti-discrimintion law. "The commission comes to these meetings with a football team of legal advisers, each one responsible for a different aspect of the directive. This means the discussion stays at a very technical level rather than a political level," an EU official said.
Belgium has tabled two more working group meetings, on 19 and 21 October, to tackle the "most sensitive" part of the dossier: access to housing. The housing part of the bill covers issues such as whether hoteliers can deny renting a room to a gay couple. But the sensitivity of the area comes more from the potential cost of installing wheelchair access to all sorts of small establishments across Europe at a time of economic austerity.
Amid the risk that the draft directive will be buried still further, the NGO community is keenly interested in keeping discussion going. Prospects for the bill will feature at a discussion by Swedish and Dutch government officials at the annual conference of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) in The Hague on 28 October. Hungary is not one of the countries blocking the law. But when asked by this website if the directive will feature in the work programme of the upcoming Hungarian EU presidency, Budapest’s new ambassador to the EU, Peter Gyorkos, was unable to give a firm commitment. "It is too early to say," the diplomat said.
November 30, 2010 – IGLYO
Equality For LGBTQ Youth A Postcode Lottery Across Europe
A report published today by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency , ‘Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity’, reveals that there are growing gaps across the EU Member States in relation to the protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) people.
The report reveals that in some member states, legislation and practice promote better protections while in others the rights of LGBT people are being restricted and neglected. The differential in legal protections and clear implementation can be clearly seen in an East / West divide within the Union.
The report deals with findings on key issues such as the right to life, security and protection from hatred and violence, the right to freedom of assembly and expression of LGBT people, as well as the revised commitment to the proposal for a horizontal anti-discrimination directive. However, the report fails to assess the lived experience of LGBT young people who are often most isolated and at risk of experiencing homophobia on a daily basis in the education system.
IGLYO’s chair Esther Paterson was quoted as saying: ‘This report highlights what IGLYO has known for some time – that although changes are being made across Europe, progress on a whole is slow and uneven. Negative attitudes and stereotyping are cited as common roots for this discrimination and this reflects the experiences cited by young people during IGLYOs consultations and research. We are pleased to see the recommendations in the FRA report and would welcome further research around the experiences of LGBT young people in particular. We know that for LGBTQ youth, school can be a hostile and difficult environment and there is little protection offered across most of the EU Member States. We hope that the EU Parliament recognise the unique experiences of LGBTQ youth within this report and supports steps to provide better protection to youth to safeguard their wellbeing and future development’
The right to life, security and protections from hatred and violence:
The findings in this report highlight the continuing need for EU Member States to promote a ‘more balanced public opinion’ towards LGBTQ communities, as a way of reducing verbal and physical abuse towards LGBTQ people. IGLYO believe that along with facilitating dialogue between LGBTQ groups and the wider community, EU Member States should increase the resources and support provided to LGBTQ youth organisations who provide much of the emotional support to youth experiencing the verbal and physical abuse mentioned.
Securing freedom of assembly and expression of LGBT people:
IGLYO are particularly concerned with the status of freedom of expression in Lithuania where the intention is to prohibit dissemination of material which is seen to promote LGBTQ relationships or expresses values which directly infringe those of traditional family values. The right to receive unbiased information is especially important for LGBTQ youth who often need access to support around coming out and bullying among other issues.
Renewed commitment to the proposal for a horizontal directive:
IGLYO have been one of the key supporters of the horizontal anti-discrimination directive and urge Member-States to address the existing hierarchy of grounds in relation to discrimination in the EU law. Earlier this year, IGLYO (with the support of the European Youth Foundation) delivered a conference to educate and inform their members on the horizontal directive, with the view to increase lobbying in EU Member States.
For More Information Contact:
Mob: +44 7825 686 518
|Oisín O’ Reilly
Board Member IGLYO
Mob: +353 85 142 1202
Notes to the Editor:
What is IGLYO?
IGLYO stands for the ‘International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Youth and Students Organistion’, IGLYO has 79 member organisations in 37 Council of Europe countries and represents the interests of LGBTQ youth across the pan European region.
IGLYO was founded in 1984 in Amsterdam.
Where Can I get a Copy of the Report?
To see further information about the report and background, please click here