Thursday, 27 June 2013

PACE vote on sexual orientation resolution and recommendation

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will today consider and vote on a new resolution and recommendation in respect of 'Tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity'. 

This represents a significant evolution in Council of Europe policy since Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The new draft resolution and recommendation will be introduced by Håkon Haugli, who is has also produced a full report on the issue. 

The full text of the draft resolution and recommendation is as follows:

Draft Resolution

1. The Parliamentary Assembly welcomes the positive developments in tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity which have occurred since the adoption of its Resolution 1728 (2010), such as the introduction, by different Council of Europe member States, of specific legislative measures, action plans and strategies to promote equality and tackle discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBTs) as well as to tackle homophobic and transphobic speech and violence.
2. Despite this progress, the Assembly regrets that prejudice, hostility and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity remain a serious problem, affecting the lives of tens of millions of Europeans. They manifest themselves in hate speech, bullying and violence, often affecting young people. They also manifest themselves through the repeated infringement of the right of peaceful assembly for LGBTs.
3. The Assembly acknowledges that societal changes require time and occur unevenly within the same country, let alone between different countries. However, the Assembly also believes that politicians, through their example and discourse, as well as laws, through their binding nature, are powerful driving forces to promote changes in society and ensure that the respect for human rights is not only a legal obligation but also a shared value.
4. In this regard, the Assembly expresses concern vis-à-vis homophobic statements by politicians and other personalities in a position of authority, which, far from being manifestations of freedom of expression, amount to hate speech and incitement to hostility, discrimination and violence.
5. Furthermore, the Assembly expresses deep concern at the introduction, at local, regional and finally at national or federal level, of legislation or draft legislation on the prohibition of so-called homosexual propaganda, in a number of Council of Europe member States. These laws and draft laws, which are at variance with freedom of expression and the prohibition of discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity, risk legitimising the prejudice and hostility which is present in society and fuelling a climate of hatred against LGBTs.
6. In the light of these considerations, reaffirming the continued validity of its Resolution 1728 (2010) on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, the Assembly calls on Council of Europe member States:
6.1. as regards equality and non-discrimination, to:
6.1.1. ensure the full protection of human rights for all those who are subject to their jurisdiction, including the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
6.1.2. ensure that any new legal and policy instrument they adopt in the area of equality and non-discrimination explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity;
6.1.3. introduce, without delay, civil legislation protecting against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in all areas of life, including employment, education, health, access to goods and services, housing, access to social security and social advantages;
6.1.4. devise and implement national action plans/strategies aimed at promoting equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
6.1.5. introduce clear regulations on public duty, mandating the public services to refrain from discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
6.1.6. involve LGBT and human rights organisations in consultations on draft laws and policies concerning discrimination;
6.1.7. adopt criminal legislation introducing sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for prosecution of hate crimes;
6.1.8. introduce binding guidelines for law-enforcement officials to ensure that any alleged hate motive associated with a crime, including hate motives on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, is promptly, impartially, effectively and thoroughly investigated and duly taken into account in the prosecution and sentencing of those crimes;
6.2. as regards homophobia and transphobia, to:
6.2.1. improve data collection on homophobic and transphobic crimes, as well as on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
6.2.2. organise public campaigns on equality and diversity, as well as against homophobia and transphobia;
6.2.3. support or set up projects against homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, with a special emphasis on prevention, addressed to and involving students, teachers and school staff;
6.2.4. train police, judiciary and administration officials on homophobia, transphobia and the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
6.2.5. set up complaint and support mechanisms for victims of homophobic and transphobic violence, such as hotlines and specific social services, equipped with specialised staff;
7. As regards specific situations of concern, the Assembly calls on:
7.1. the authorities that exercise de facto control in the northern part of Cyprus to give full execution to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Modinos v. Cyprus and ensure the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations between adults, as in the Government-controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus;
7.2. the authorities of Poland to give full execution to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case ofBączkowski and Others v. Poland;
7.3. the competent authorities of the Republic of Moldova to give full execution to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Genderdoc-M v. Moldova; to comply with judicial decisions quashing legislation on the prohibition of so-called homosexual propaganda; and to repeal it if they have not yet done so;
7.4. the authorities of the Russian Federation to give full execution to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Alekseyev v. Russia;
7.5. the Parliaments of Ukraine and the Russian Federation not to pursue the examination of the respective draft laws on the prohibition of so-called homosexual propaganda;
7.6. the relevant local and regional authorities in the Russian Federation to repeal legislation on the prohibition of so-called homosexual propaganda.
8. As regards the role of public figures, including parliamentarians, politicians and other people in a position of authority, the Assembly:
8.1. invites them to establish a relationship of dialogue and trust with the LGBT community, also by taking part in Pride marches and similar events;
8.2. calls on them to refrain from homophobic and transphobic discourse and to publicly condemn it;
8.3. proposes to organise awareness-raising activities aimed at parliamentarians on the prevention of homophobia and transphobia, as well as the promotion of Council of Europe standards in the area of non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Draft Recommendation

1. Following Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, the Council of Europe has strengthened its activities in this area. The Parliamentary Assembly affirms its full support for this course of action and encourages the Committee of Ministers to continue in this direction with a view to ensuring the full implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5.
2. Recalling its Resolution ... (2013) on tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, the Assembly regrets that, despite significant improvements in the protection of human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBTs) in some Council of Europe member States, violence, prejudice, hostility and discrimination against them remain a serious problem.
3. Furthermore, the Assembly expresses deep concern at the repeated infringement, in some Council of Europe member States, of the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in relation to LGBTs and at the clear setback in this area due to the introduction of laws and draft laws on the prohibition of so-called homosexual propaganda.
4. The Assembly considers that Council of Europe action in the area of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is highly important to ensure that the same human rights standards are applied in all Council of Europe member States and that the respect for diversity is a shared value without geographical or political divides.
5. In light of the above, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
5.1. ensure regular follow-up of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and conduct periodic reviews of its implementation;
5.2. ensure that its activities in the areas of youth, equality, human dignity and intercultural dialogue, including its religious dimension, mainstream the issue of non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
5.3. intensify its work against homophobia and transphobia, with a particular emphasis on prevention in schools and sports;
5.4. set up a model online training course on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity for the police, prosecutors and the judiciary, which could subsequently be adapted at national level;
5.5. explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination in all its future relevant conventions;
5.6. consider the feasibility of joint action with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in order to ensure the collection of comparable Council of Europe-wide data and information on the situation of LGBTs;
5.7. ensure that the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, including those concerning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, are effectively implemented without delay, including through the adoption of general measures to prevent further violations.



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