Recommendation 1474 (2000)
Situation of lesbians and gays in Council of Europe
from the OffICE database of the Council of Europe - September 2000)
Nearly twenty years ago, in its
Recommendation 924 (1981) on discrimination against homosexuals,
the Assembly condemned the various forms of discrimination suffered by
homosexuals in certain Council of Europe member states.
Nowadays, homosexuals are still all
too often subjected to discrimination or violence, for example, at school or
in the street. They are perceived
as a threat to the rest of society, as though there were a danger of
homosexuality spreading once it became recognised.
Indeed, where there is little evidence of homosexuality in a country,
this is merely a blatant indication of the oppression of homosexuals.
This form of homophobia is sometimes
propagated by certain politicians or
religious leaders, who use it to justify the continued existence of
discriminatory laws and, above all, aggressive or contemptuous attitudes.
Under the accession procedure for new
member states, the Assembly ensures that, as a prerequisite for membership,
homosexual acts between consenting adults are no longer classified as a
The Assembly notes that homosexuality
is still a criminal offence in some Council of Europe member states and that
discrimination between homosexuals and heterosexuals exists in a great many
others with regard to the age of consent.
The Assembly welcomes the fact that,
as early as 1981, the European Court of Human Rights, in its Dudgeon v. United Kingdom judgment
held that the prohibition of sexual acts between consenting male adults
infringed Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and that
more recently, in 1999, it expressed its opposition to all discrimination of a
sexual nature in its Lustig-Prean and Beckett v. United
Kingdom and Smith and Grady v. United
The Assembly refers to its
Opinion No. 216
(2000) on draft Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human
Rights, in which it recommended that the Committee of Ministers include sexual
orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination, considering it to
be one of the most odious forms of discrimination.
While laws on employment do not
explicitly provide for restrictions concerning homosexuals, in practice
homosexuals are sometimes excluded from employment and there are unjustified
restrictions on their access to the armed forces.
The Assembly is pleased to note,
however, that some countries have not only abolished all forms of
discrimination but have also passed laws recognising homosexual partnerships,
or recognising homosexuality as a ground for granting asylum where there is a
risk of persecution on the basis of sexual orientation.
It is none the less aware that
recognition of these rights is currently hampered by people?s attitudes,
which still need to change.
The Assembly therefore recommends
that the Committee of Ministers:
add sexual orientation to the grounds
for discrimination prohibited by the European Convention on Human Rights, as
requested in the Assembly?s Opinion No. 216
extend the terms of reference of the
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) to cover homophobia
founded on sexual orientation, and add to the staff of the European
Commissioner for Human Rights an individual with special responsibility for
questions of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation;
call upon member states:
to include sexual orientation among the prohibited
grounds for discrimination in their national legislation;
revoke all legislative provisions rendering homosexual acts between consenting
adults liable to criminal prosecution;
to release with immediate effect anyone imprisoned for sexual acts between
consenting homosexual adults;
to apply the same minimum age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual acts;
take positive measures to combat homophobic attitudes, particularly in
schools, the medical profession, the armed forces, the police, the judiciary
and the Bar, as well as in sport, by means of basic and further education and
co-ordinate efforts with a view to simultaneously launching a vast public
information campaign in as many member states as possible;
to take disciplinary action against anyone
discriminating against homosexuals;
to ensure equal treatment for homosexuals with
regard to employment;
to adopt legislation which makes
provision for registered partnerships;
recognise persecution against homosexuals as a ground for granting asylum;
to include in existing fundamental
rights protection and mediation structures, or establish an expert on,
discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
Assembly debate on 30 June 2000
(24th Sitting). See Doc. 8755, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights (rapporteur: Mr Tabajdi).
Text adopted by the Assembly on 26
September 2000 (27th Sitting).