LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

ILGA-Europe’s statement on the Transgender Day of Remembrance (20 November)

Today, ILGA-Europe adds its voice to the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This Day was established following a murder of Rita Hester in 1998 and serves as a reminder of the existing prejudice, hatred and discrimination against trans people.

Such shocking violation of the fundamental right to life remains a European concern as well and therefore requires a European response. In this respect, ILGA-Europe has been working closely with Transgender Europe and other organisations to ensure that European institutions take the rights of trans people seriously and draw the right tools to address violations.

In October 2012, the European Union adopted a Directive which established a set of measures to strengthen victims’ rights in the European Union. The Directive acknowledges the existence of specific protection needs of victims of crimes committed with a bias or discriminatory motive related to their personal characteristics. These characteristics include sexual orientation, gender and gender identity or expression.

This Directive was hailed as the first international piece of legislation referring to gender expression. Its significance lies in the fact that all trans and gender-variant people are as a result covered as are all people who do not present their gender in a stereotyped way, irrespective of their identity.

However, there is clear need for more European legislation as violence on the grounds of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation is not covered by the European Union’s Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia. ILGA-Europe reiterates its call on the EU institutions to extend the piece of legislation to cover those grounds.

While the EU makes piecemeal progress in addressing discrimination and violence against trans people, there is a need for a systematic and holistic approach from the EU institutions. ILGA-Europe calls on the European Commission to adopt an LGBT Roadmap which will address the issues of discrimination, hatred and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people and draw measures for prevention and adequate redress of such manifestations.

More progress is required at Member State level of the Council of Europe. Indeed, only a handful of its member states ratified the 2011 the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. This Convention is the first legally binding instrument in the world creating a comprehensive legal framework to prevent violence, to protect victims and to end with the impunity of perpetrators and includes explicit reference to transgender people.

As of today, only 24 of 47 Member States of the Council of Europe have singed and only one Member State has ratified the Convention. The European Union has neither signed nor ratified the Convention albeit its ability to do so. ILGA-Europe calls the European Union to sign and ratify the Convention and encourage its Member States to do so without delay.

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s’ Executive Board, said:

“Solid legal measures addressing transphobic and homophobic hatred and violence are urgent as without them more lives are likely to be lost due to a sense of impunity by perpetrators. The European Institutions must react swiftly and firmly to prevent further deaths, hatred and discrimination which trans people still subjected to in Europe.

We welcome the positive developments where gender identity is being recognised in hate crime laws in some countries. Now, it is for the European Union as a whole which needs to follow. We need clear and unambiguous message that transphobic discrimination and violence are illegal and do not have place in modern Europe.”