New European standard on LGBTI rights
A new standard for LGBTI rights in Europe, drafted under the oversight of Irish human rights lawyer Michael Farrell, has been adopted by the Council of Europe’s body for combating racism and intolerance.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) will rely on the non-binding recommendation in its regular monitoring visits to Council of Europe member states, which includes all of Europe except for Russia and Belarus.
Mr Farrell, the Irish member of ECRI, chaired the working group drafting the recommendation, which was assisted by Dr Peter Dunne as a legal expert from Bristol University.
While the recommendation is not legally binding, the reports of ECRI’s monitoring visits are widely circulated and have at times been considered by the European Court of Human Rights when dealing with complaints against member states.
The LGBTI recommendation calls on all states to accord the same rights to same-sex relationships and families as they accord to opposite-sex couples and families and to recognise transgender persons in their chosen gender without requiring sterilisation or other unwanted surgery or divorce as pre-conditions.
It requires an end to all discrimination against LGBTI persons and strong and effective legislation against hate speech and hate motivated crime and calls on political leaders to combat hate speech and welcome diversity.
It also calls for the banning of so-called “sex normalisation” surgery of intersex children and young people and of so-called “conversion therapy” that seeks to change persons’ sexual orientation but frequently results in severe mental health problems.
Mr Farrell told Irish Legal News: “The ECRI Recommendation comes at an important time when there is a backlash in some states against the steps taken in recent times to end the persecution of LGBTI persons and to have a more tolerant and diverse society.
“And even in Ireland, where there have been welcome changes recently, there is still more work to be done, particularly in relation to the prevention of hate speech and the provision of adequate health services for LGBTI persons.”