On the 16th of May 2017, I was invited to give a "Pint of Science" talk on the theme of "Sexuality in Society". My co-speakers were Prof Stevi Jackson, and Alix Fox. The event took place in a pub in York, and the theme of my talk was "are gay rights human rights?"
To mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia
and Biphobia, IDAHOT, the Council of Europe has launched a webpage – under the
slogan COME OUT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - which gives an interactive overview of the
legal and social conditions experienced by sexual minorities throughout the 47
Countries of the CoE.
Thanks to a user-friendly layout and clear keywords, it is
easily accessible to the general public and it explains the origins and the importance
of commemorating, every 17 May, the 1990 decision of the World Health
Organisation to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. Under
each thematic section, data and animations highlight the rates of
discrimination and the incidence of hatred violence on LGBTI people, showing
how prejudice still affects the everyday life of gay men, lesbians and
transgender persons across the CoE. Further, detailed Reports and short interviews
to Commissioners and Parliamentary members involved in specific projects illustrate
the actions undertaken by the CoE against homophobia and transphobia.
The message conveyed throughout this webpage is as simple as
powerful: LGBT rights are not special rights and, as the Secretary General of
the CoE remarked yesterday “LGBTI
people have the same rights as everyone else under the European Convention on
particular praise goes to the Secretary General for directly addressing the
violent crackdown on gay men in Chechnya and for his firm condemn of hatred
violence and irresponsible political speech: “I am particularly concerned about
the recent allegations of mass persecutions of LGBTI people in the Chechen
Republic of the Russian Federation. Discrimination and violence against LGBTI
people is the worst kind of populism. Using minorities as scapegoats is
unfortunately a growing trend. It is dangerous to democracy and governments must
do all they can to stop it. Societies based on human rights, democracy and the
rule of law need strong anti-discrimination laws, which are properly applied,
and policies to integrate minorities and protect their rights. We also need to
tackle irresponsible political dialogue inciting people to hatred and
It is to be hoped that such explicit stances will encourage
the CoE institutions to actively urge the Russian Federation and all CoE
countries to fully comply with their obligations under human rights law.
Likewise, it is to be hoped that the clear reference to the European Convention
of Human Rights as the crucial legal frame to tackle homophobic and transphobic
discrimination will reinforce the ECHR willingness to act as a ‘sanctuary’ for
people discriminated and prosecuted on the grounds of their sexual orientation
and gender identity.
The Second Section of the European Court of Human Rights has communicated the case of Beus v Croatia, which was lodged on 27 February 2017.
The case concerns the complaint by Mr Ante Beus that, following a homophobic attack (during which he was hit twice on the head and once on the body, resulting in haematoma and swellings on his face), that domestic authorities failed to act appropriately in dealing with the crime committed against him.
Mr Beus complains, under Articles 3, 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, about the lack of an appropriate procedural response of the domestic authorities to the acts of homophobic violence against him.