BRUSSELS, December 9, 2005 –
Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day when the world is marking the
adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
During the past year Europe has
witnessed many improvements regarding the human rights situation for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Almost all 25 member states of the
European Union implemented a requirement of the EU Employment Equality
Directive and prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in employment.
More LGBT people across Europe won
discrimination cases in the courts. Spain introduced full equality to
same-sex partners in terms of marriage and adoption. Same-sex partners
received legal recognition in Andorra, Slovenia, and the UK.
There are similar bills being
introduced in Croatia, Ireland and Hungary. The first ever national
referendum approved same-sex partnership legislation in Switzerland.
Belgium is about to grant same-sex partners an entitlement to a joint
At the same time during the past
year Europe witnessed some shocking developments and blatant violations of
basic human rights of LGBT people.
Municipal authorities in such
cities as Bucharest, Chisinau, Poznan, Riga and Warsaw hindered or banned
peaceful Pride and Equality Marches. Some Polish politicians openly incited
hate campaigns against LGBT people and the country’s equality body has been
closed. In Latvia, some politicians compared LGBT people to monkeys and the
country is heading towards a ban of same-sex marriage in its constitution.
Poland. Riot police were called-in during the equality march last
month. A week later, protest marches in many Polish cities were
allowed to go ahead following Europe-wide outrage. (photo courtesy KPH,
Right-wing politicians and
Christian fundamentalists in Poland and Latvia provoked a huge wave of
homophobia and intolerance during the summer of 2005. A gay man was killed
in one of London’s parks. A Slovenian member of parliament suggested a
compulsory genitalia test to identify the gender of another politician who
supported LGBT rights.
A Swedish pastor was allowed by the
court to call LGBT people a ‘society’s tumour’.
And these are just a few examples
of the prejudice and discrimination that LGBT people still to face in
“Europe has made significant
progress in terms of protecting and upholding the human rights of LGBT
people and is the world’s leader in this respect,” commented Patricia
Prendiville, ececutive director of International Lesbian and Gay Association
“Europe was the first continent to
be free of laws which criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults of
the same gender. Every year more and more countries in Europe grant legal
recognition and protection against discrimination and respect to LGBT people
and same-sex partners.
“Nevertheless LGBT people in Europe
still face violations of their basic human rights,” she continued.
“Unfortunately, discrimination, humiliation, prejudice and homophobic hate
are still features of life for LGBT people in Europe.
“We welcome the support of European
Institutions in the struggle for equality and the recognition of the human
rights of LGBT people. On this day, we call on the European Union, the
Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe to continue their work in tackling discrimination and homophobia to
ensure Europe is a continent where the human rights of each European are
respected and protected.”